Brevard health officials issue urgent appeal as uptick in COVID-19 cases have crowded ERs

98% of COVID patients are unvaccinated, Rockledge Regional Medical Center president says

Rockledge Regional Medical Center (News 6)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County medical officials issued an urgent plea Wednesday to the community as COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising: Get vaccinated.

Brevard County Emergency Management issued statements from multiple health care facilities regarding the growing infections among the unvaccinated and the impact on local hospitals. Don Walker, the spokesperson for the county, said the rise in new virus cases is “an alarming trend.”

According to the Florida Department of Health’s latest COVID-19 report, Brevard County had 1,443 new cases last week. For comparison, the county reported 246 cases for the week ending on June 3. The data also shows the majority of cases are residents between 20 and 40 years old, a trend being reported across the country.

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Florida Department of Health -Brevard County Administrator Maria Stahl said all three vaccines are widely available and free, including at the Brevard Health Clinic in Viera. Shots are also readily available now at most pharmacies including Publix, Walgreens, CVS and Walmart locations across the state.

“Everyone over the age of 12 should get vaccinated,” Stahl said.

Receiving a vaccine does not provide a 100% guarantee of not getting infected but it does prevent nearly 100% of the most severe outcomes of the virus including hospitalization, Health First Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker said.

“Vaccines are widely available and have been proven to be safe and highly effective – including against the Delta variant,” Stalnaker said.

Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Marl Schollmeyer said crews are also now transporting an average of 10 patients a day with COVID symptoms, close to the peak of the pandemic when BCFR averaged 10 to 15 a day.

Local emergency rooms are also reporting a rise in virus-related visits and almost all of those cases are among unvaccinated individuals.

“We are experiencing an increase in COVID-related emergency department visits and hospital admissions,” President of Rockledge Regional Medical Center Andy Romine said. “Over 98% of the COVID patients that have been admitted this year have been unvaccinated individuals.”

Parrish Medical Center President George Mikitarian is seeing similar numbers of virus-related ER visits and hospitalizations.

“The pandemic is far from over,” Mikitarian said. “We can’t stress enough the importance of continued vigilance with preventive measures and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

Neighboring Orange and Volusia counties are also reporting a rising number of COVID-19 patients at hospitals.

Hospital systems in Volusia County are hitting new records for the entire coronavirus pandemic and nationwide data shows ICU capacity is at 68%.

Brevard County officials are asking people to take precautions including social distancing and mask-wearing to curb the spread and for those who are unvaccinated, now is the time to get vaccinated.