More than 11,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since right after Christmas.

The Florida Hospital Association said as of Wednesday, there are now more than 11,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.

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In the past 14 days, the FHA said COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased more than 224% in Florida.

So far, hospital numbers are still lower than they were at the height of the delta variant back in August. That’s when AdventHealth’s system hit an all-time high of 1,700 patients. But  AdventHealth leaders said the rate at which hospitalizations have grown in just two weeks can’t be ignored.

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“It is not the common cold,” said Dr. Vincent Hsu, AdventHealth’s executive director of infection prevention.

Last week, hospital officials with AdventHealth warned against the contagiousness of the COVID-19 omicron variant, which has led to a positivity rate of 40% across all CentraCare locations.

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“Even though it may not be as virulent or severe as the delta variant, it can still cause significant disease, hospitalizations. No one wants to be hospitalized,” Hsu said.

In the past two weeks, COVID-19-related hospital admissions have more than tripled across AdventHealth’s seven-county system, from 240 on Dec. 29 to 910 on Monday, with 120 of current patients receiving ICU-level care.

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Orlando Health is no longer releasing COVID-19 patient data. Nemours Children’s Hospital reports its caseload as 15 patients — up from nine a week ago.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the county is working to understand how the federal response to the increase in cases will impact the local response.

READ: Federal government to send millions of free rapid COVID-19 tests to schools

Demings is continuing to push vaccines, boosters and repeated advice of safety protocols like wearing a mask.

“Go back and look at data, that’s when we had numbers at seemingly very lowest rates of transmission within our community, so I know that it was a good strategy,” Demings said.

READ: Coronavirus: US COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases break records

AdventHealth said its system is prepared to manage this increase, but requests that people avoid going to the emergency room for testing, and instead seek home tests or county- or city-run sites.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.