Broward is a COVID-19 variant hotspot with more young people headed to hospitals

Variant cases are leading to more hospitalizations among people between 25 and 44 in Broward County, health officials say.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward Health Medical Center’s chief medical officer says the hospital has seen “a slow wave” of patients needing to be admitted recently with COVID-19 — and Joshua Lenchus also says they are treating younger patients with the virus.

“Usually between the age of 25 and 44 is the age that we are seeing, and when you compare that to the statistics of the increases in incidents in the community, that’s the age that is most susceptible,” he said.

Memorial Healthcare System says it is also seeing an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Reasons for the downward shift in age for those needing hospitalization include a higher vaccination rate among those most at-risk — people over 65 — and the community spread of COVID-19 variants.

Broward County leads the state, which leads in the nation, in confirmed variant cases.

“The UK variant, we also have the Brazilian variant, and have people that now are infected with the California variant,” Lenchus said.

And then there’s the issue of vaccine hesitancy. “That age group is a little more hesitant, I think, to get the vaccine than people who are older them,” Lenchus said of the younger patients.

There’s also concern driven by the temporary pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration

“I think what this should do is, the pause that they did in this one-in-a-million side-effect, I think should underscore how important the CDC and the federal government are taking every report of these issues,” Lenchus said.

As demand for vaccines softens, medical experts say they continue to battle the virus of misinformation that spreads online.

“If people have hesitancy about getting the vaccine, the best resource for you would not be the Internet,” Lenchus said. “It would be your primary care doctor. Go and have a conversation with him or her about what your concerns are so they can dispel some of the urban myths that we still see today.”


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About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."