ORLANDO, Fla. – Officials with Central Florida’s largest hospital system said there are about 1,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday and crews are currently working in a “black” status.
“Black” status means hospital officials will defer non-emergency surgeries at hospitals throughout the Central Florida division. Health officials said outpatient surgery sites will only conduct time-sensitive and urgent procedures.
Time-sensitive pediatric procedures can be conducted with the approval of the chief medical officer.
AdventHealth officials said this is the most amount of COVID-19 hospitalizations the Central Florida system has seen in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Central Florida division includes the following counties:
- Orange County
- Osceola County
- Seminole County
- Lake County
- Polk County
- Volusia County
- Flagler County
Hospital officials will share a news update at 1 p.m. on Friday.
“What’s extraordinary is the speed at which we are currently seeing new cases and unfortunately right now, the slope is pretty steep and we haven’t seen the end of it, this is still coming,” executive director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiologist Dr. Vincent Hsu said.
In response to whether there are any signs of a deceleration in the number of cases, Hsu said there isn’t as of now and they are continuing to see a “very significant surge.” He said among the number of hospitalized patients, about 93-95% are unvaccinated patients.
“We have to recognize that the delta variant behaves in ways that ... were unlike the other variants and so this is a significant issue that we’re going to have to deal with,” Hsu said.
In response to the surge, AdventHealth updated its visitor policy to allow one visitor per non-COVID patient and patients positive with the virus will be allowed one visitor by appointment only.
“We’re seeing the uptick, we’re seeing folks coming in for more testing, we’re seeing a lot more positive testing,” said Dr. Michael Cacciatore, chief medical officer with AdventHealth.
Cacciatore and Hsu both discussed the number of unvaccinated pregnant women in the ICU. Hsu reiterated the risk of getting COVID-19 and the effects of the virus are far greater than the side effects, “small risks,” of a vaccine. Cacciatore said the risk versus benefit ratio is used in regards to the vaccine in the same way it is used with any medication on a pregnant woman.
“Almost every medication we have has not been tested in pregnancy. Well, it kind of makes sense because it’s kind of something ethical about testing pregnant women and medications,” Cacciatore said. “So we always use the risk versus benefit ratio with the risk of medication and what’s the benefit.”
Hsu reiterated despite the current situation with increasing cases that “we are going to get better.”
“I do want to be optimistic that we are going to see a pot of gold there at the end but right for now, we’re just going to have to keep moving and keep working hard,” he said.
Doctors are encouraging people to wear masks and follow newly updated CDC guidelines to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Cacciatore said students and teachers should also mask up for the new school year.
“Masking is a very reasonable approach to decrease transmission in our school system,” Cacciatore said.
News 6 reached out to Orlando Health for their hospitalization numbers and a spokesperson said as of Thursday, the hospital system has 454 COVID-19 positive patients. Orlando Health said the rise in hospitalizations is “attributed primarily to the large number of individuals who have not been vaccinated.”