COVID-19 patients in Baptist Health ICU ‘shockingly young’

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – In an email sent to Baptist Health employees last week, hospital leaders warned of a resurgence of new cases of the coronavirus, saying new patients who needed critical care in the past few days were “shockingly young”.

“We recently lost a patient under the age of 40,” said the email News4Jax received.

Baptist Health told staff in the email that, like other hospitals in the Jacksonville area, it is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized.

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The email was sent as Florida, and the nation has seen an increasing number of cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 across the country.

Dr. Timothy Groover, chief medical officer at Baptist Health, told News4Jax that 98% to 100% of patients in need of hospitalization are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

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Dr. Groover said the increase in younger patients could be related to the rise in the Delta variant.

“Younger, sicker, faster, that’s what we call the Delta variant,” said Groover. “Nobody would have thought that this number would increase so quickly.”

Baptist Health said half of the 149 cases now, 13 more than yesterday, could be the Delta variant.

Groover said the data is not yet available, but he believes the virus is more deadly as well.

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On Monday, UF Health was caring for 60 people infected with COVID-19, 23 of whom were in intensive care and half were on ventilators. The hospital suspects 15 more patients are infected, but tests are still pending.

Overall, there has been a 57% increase in COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville hospitals over the past week, Groover said.

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New infections have increased in Florida, what reported 23,697 new cases in its weekly status report last week. That is almost twice as many new infections as the state had reported the week before. From the new cases Jacksonville had 2,127, for the first time since February, more than 2,000 cases in a week.

The Florida Department of Health announced Tuesday that as of July 1, 31 cases of the Delta variant had been discovered in Duval County. According to the agency, the data shows the variant makes up 277 out of 21,866, or 1% of the cases studied across the state, but experts say that number could be misleading.

“I think there is a certain amount of relaxation going on that is inappropriate,” Groover said of people who wear masks less often and who do not distance themselves socially. “I think it’s too early to lose your vigilance. I think now is the time to step up this as a community and say we are seeing the rise as we are going to respond to it. Given what we learned the first time, it is time to take responsibility. “

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