Florida seeing ‘explosion’ in COVID-19 cases among younger residents, but patients less sick

ORLANDO, Fla — The numbers for COVID-19 in Central Florida have increased in some regard and decreased in others, but hospitals say their patients are less sick this time around.

Orlando Health officials said hospitalizations right now are higher than ever before, with about 108 patients across the system.

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Of those 108 COVI-19 patients at Orlando Health, three are on a ventilator. Back in April, 50% were requiring ventilation.

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In Seminole County, officials said 51 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, the highest number they have ever recorded.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made a stop in Orlando on Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 in Florida. His visit to Orlando Regional Medical Center came after the state surpassed 100,000 cases of coronavirus this week.

“What we’ve seen particularly over the last week is a real explosion in new cases among our younger demographics,” DeSantis said.

In March, the median age of those testing positive was around 65. The median age eventually leveled off around age 50, but as of last week statewide it’s down to age 35 with most positive tests coming from those between ages 25 and 34.

Doctors said they believe its likely not spreading much at work where safety procedures are in place, but most likely from social gatherings.

“Where we’re letting the guard down are the pool parties, social gathering where we are not thinking about transmission, where we’re not wearing our masks, not thinking about social distancing,” said Dr. George Ralls with Orlando Health.

Ralls told Eyewitness News medical professionals have learned to better treated COVID-19 patients using Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that was developed to treat Ebola.

“Once they start on this medication … they need it for five days, so they are in the hospital longer than they would have normally been,” Ralls said. “So that could be a reason why our inpatient numbers have ticked up a little.”

Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said additional doses of Remdesivir was provided by the state.

Doctors said, so far, the investigation phases have been promising.

“You know its not one of those things that we can say, ‘This is the answer,’” he said. “There’s really (been) a lot of positive anecdotes from our infectious disease docs.”

DeSantis said the state has now tested or at least offered a test to residents and employees at all more then 4,000 long-term care facilities in the state. He said more than 80% of those facilities have had zero positive tests.

Read: ‘It’s utter nonsense’: Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini files lawsuit alleging Orange County mask ordinance is unconstitutional

You can view the press conference in its entirety below:

Christopher Boyce, WFTV.com

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.