Jackson Health System Upgrades COVID Threat to ‘High,' Changing Visitation Policy

Jackson Health, the largest health provider in the state, says it has seen a 111% increase in COVID hospitalizations in just two weeks

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With COVID-19 cases on the rise in South Florida and the rest of the state once again, Jackson Health System has upgraded its COVID threat level to “high” at most of its facilities and will be ending visitation hours for many patients.

Jackson Health, the largest health provider in the state, says it has seen a 111% increase in COVID hospitalizations in just two weeks since July 6.

“It’s just been disheartening to see the effect now after we thought we had some glimmer of hope that this was getting behind us,” said Dr. O’Neil Pyke, Chief Medical Officer at Jackson North Medical Center.  

Pike said they’ve also seen a demographic shift with these hospitalizations.

“Certainly a younger population,” said Dr. Pyke. “Most of them do have a comorbidity, many of them do, but some don’t and they just succumb to this very severe illness that is not a joke.”

Another eye-opening statistic from JHS, of the 139 COVID patients in its hospitals, 95% of those patients are unvaccinated.

“Get vaccinated. That is just the bottom line,” said Dr. Pyke.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in South Florida. NBC 6's Alyssa Hyman reports.

At a news conference Tuesday, Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya said they're "no where close" to where they were last summer when the hospital system was being overwhelmed by Covid patients.

"As a healthcare system, Jackson wants to avoid a repeat of last year and overwhelm our hospitals," Migoya said, while urging people to get vaccinated. "This is the pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Jackson Health System also announced that starting this Wednesday, July 21, it will end visitation hours for many patients.

"Jackson will no longer allow visitation for most inpatient units, excluding rehabilitation, pediatrics/NICU, maternity, non-COVID end-of-life cases, and other administrative exceptions," the hospital system said in a statement. "Additionally, visitors are not allowed in all adult emergency departments.”

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis was also encouraging the vaccine Monday.

“Obviously in July, which I told people months ago we would see higher prevalence, because this is a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern that it follows in the Sunbelt States, particularly in Florida,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “If you are vaccinated, though, the number of people that end up hospitalized is almost zero. It’s incredibly low.”

Dr. Aileen Marty, a top infectious disease expert from Florida International University, cautioned that seasonal explanation for the rise, saying there are a lot of reasons why we are where we are, including vaccine hesitancy.

“We’re seeing cycles depending on what’s going on in the community,” said Dr. Marty. “How people are behaving. How they’re interacting. And as new variants form and facilitate further transmission. A combination of factors leads to a rise in cases.”

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