Hospitals Seeing Influx of Younger COVID-19 Patients

As new infection counts set records in Florida, hospitals are seeing more patients in emergency and intensive-care units -- and they're younger this time around.

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One week ago, Miami-Dade's largest hospital system saw its seven-day average COVID caseload settle into a 10-week low of 101 inpatients.

Then it hit.

"Looks like the second round of COVID is upon us," said Martha Baker, president of the union that represents healthcare workers at Jackson.

A 50% increase in just one week.

"The scary thing is, we don’t know how far this is going to climb," said Baker. "This is just week one of the resurge. So we don't know what this will do."

And June Ellis, associate chief nursing officer at Jackson's flagship hospital, said the patients in this influx are much younger than in the first.

""This time we’re starting to see younger patients coming in," Ellis said. "So more of 30-, 40-year-old patients coming in, late 20s."

Jackson is not alone in seeing higher demand.

Countywide, 87 new COVID patients were identified Wednesday, the highest number reported on the county's daily releases of data, which date back to May 6.

The state Agency for Healthcare Administration reports intensive care beds are becoming more scarce, with none available at Kendall Regional Medical Center and West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

Countywide, 25% of ICU beds are available, AHCA reports, though the county's data shows more such beds are available.

"We are starting to open up some of our other areas that we had been able to close for COVID and now we’ve opened them up for additional ICU capacity," Jackson's Ellis, the critical care nursing leader, said.

Jackson North is down to 10% availability, the AHCA data states.

"Their catchment area is very different from ours due to the nursing homes that are around them. So it's a whole different population," Ellis said.

Asked where the situation is headed, Ellis paused, then said, "I don’t know, but if it continues, you know, the trend lines tell us we’re going to continue, we’re going."

Baker, the labor leader, said staff is already stretched thin because, unlike two months ago after elective surgeries were canceled, Jackson's hospital census is back up to a normal level and surgeries are taking place.

"We were lucky enough to dampen the curve the first go-round," she said. "Hopefully, we can dampen this one again."

Jackson Thursday reported having 152 COVID positive inpatients in its hospitals, the most since May 12. It includes all patients who have tested positive for COVID, including those being treated for other ailments.

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