Increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations forces Brevard hospitals to treat patients in tents outside

Health First also delayed all non-emergency surgeries to make more COVID-19 beds available

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County’s largest hospital system said it reached a record number of COVID-19 patients at its four hospitals in Cocoa Beach, Viera, Palm Bay and Melbourne.

Health First said it’s treating 225 patients right now. Earlier this summer, Health First said there were only 12.


“It would appear that we’re going to be in this at least, well into August,” Chief Clinical Officer Jeffrey Stalnaker said. “We’re sort of in that disaster planning mode as well identifying space and so on.’’

Health First said creating additional space for patients resulted in setting up overflow tents outside the hospitals.

Right now, Health First said two of them are being used for patients with light emergencies, not related to COVID-19.

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Starting Monday, Health First also delayed all non-emergency surgeries to make more COVID-19 beds available.

Spokesperson Lance Skelly used the phrase ‘stretched to max’ when talking about the ICU rooms.

Epidemiologist Barry Inman said the county’s death rate for COVID cases is 2 percent.

For comparison, the Brevard County Health Department said the flu’s death rate is .01 percent.

‘’All we can do is just recommend that people get the vaccine,” FDOH epidemiologist Barry Inman said.

Of the 225 coronavirus patients, Health First said less than ten of those people got their shots.

‘’So we’ve seen the same dramatic increase over the last few weeks and again, we’re finding the same thing - these are basically unvaccinated individuals,” Dr. Stalnaker said.

In response, Health First said it’s no longer allowing visitors for COVID-19 patients unless those patients are dying. Health First said it will make an exception for one visitor at a time.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.