‘We should be very worried:' Seminole County sees record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations

203 patients currently hospitalized

File photo.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – In Seminole County, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reached a new record high on Tuesday, according to a news release from the county.

Official figures show there are 203 coronavirus patients hospitalized -- an increase of 40 compared to the previous record set over the weekend -- and hospital bed availability is down to 13%.

According to The Agency For Health Care Administration, there are 874 total hospital beds in Seminole County. It also reports that Central Florida Regional, Orlando Health South Seminole, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs and Encompass Health Rehabilitation hospital of Altamonte Springs, all have 0% ICU beds available. Oviedo Medical center has two ICU beds available.

As far as non-ICU beds go, AHCA reports Central Florida Regional Hospital has 29, Orlando Health South Seminole has 34, AdventHealth Altamonte Springs has 44, Encompass Health has six and Oviedo Medical Center has 11.

Orlando Health said in a statement to News 6 that it has more hospital beds than what AHCA reports.

“In mid-March, as patient volumes declined and fewer beds were needed, Orlando Health began consolidating units to reduce the number of beds – including ICU beds – that were staffed and in operation. The current operational bed count is what we report to AHCA and what appears on their website. That number is not Orlando Health’s total bed capacity. Across all of our operations, we have nearly 3,300 beds. Nearly 200 of those are ICU beds and we have the capacity to surge up to 500 ICU beds if it becomes necessary. We are carefully monitoring the increases in patient volumes. If the need for additional beds grows, Orlando Health will re-open units and make other necessary adjustments in order to meet the needs of the community,” the statement read.

Seminole County medical director Dr. Todd Husty said during a news conference Tuesday that hospital leaders are not only concerned now but are worried about what the situation could look like in two to three weeks when people who were exposed during Fourth of July gatherings begin experiencing potentially severe symptoms.

“All I can tell you is as they went from concerned to very concerned to very, very, very concerned. I mean that’s over the last three weeks, so they’re seriously, seriously worried about what’s going to happen to us,” Husty said.

Additionally, he said the hospitals are having staffing issues.

“We should be very worried. The hospitals are having a hard time staffing. I mean, if you think about it every single patient that they see that has COVID takes twice as long as the ones who don’t have COVID. So the more hospitalizations we have with COVID, the more it taxes their resources of staff,” Husty said.

Given that Seminole County leaders are preparing for a possible spike in cases toward the end of the month as a result of the holiday weekend, Husty noted that hospitals have contingency plans in place.

Possibilities for if capacity is reached include using tents outside, decreasing elective surgeries and using alternate sites, such as freestanding emergency centers.

Husty said he was recently on a call with other EMS directors across Florida and said it was “sobering” to hear how the virus has affected some other communities and he doesn’t want to see Seminole County reach a tipping point.

“I mean, we’re pretty close to out of control. They’re absolutely out of control. It can get worse before it gets better,” Husty said.

To prevent that from happening, leaders reminded residents of the importance of wearing facial coverings, social distancing and practicing good hygiene.

“So there’s still a lot of people it can spread to and get a whole bunch more worse. Instead, if we do everything right, if we just get it to level out, it’ll start falling off on its own,” Husty said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak first hit the area, there have been 3,517 confirmed cases in Seminole County. Of those, 2,570 cases are currently active.

Drive-thru coronavirus testing is available this week for free thanks to a partnership with Allied Health. Appointments are required and can be made at PrepareSeminole.org.

  • Tuesday, July 7: Lawton Chiles Middle School, 1240 Sanctuary Drive, Oviedo
  • Wednesday, July 8: Bentley Elementary School, 2190 S. Oregon Ave., Sanford
  • Thursday, July 9: Bentley Elementary School, 2190 S Oregon Ave., Sanford
  • Friday, July 10: Milwee Middle School, 1341 S. Ronald Reagan Boulevard, Longwood
  • Saturday, July 11: Milwee Middle School, 1341 S. Ronald Reagan Boulevard, Longwood

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter and go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.