BREAVRD COUNTY, Fla. – A Brevard County School board member used Parrish Medical COVID-19 hospitalization data to misrepresent the true situation hospitals are currently facing, according to the hospital system CEO.
Brevard County’s hospitals have regularly been releasing COVID-19 numbers in recent weeks due to rising cases and hospitalizations, including Parrish Health Medical Center, which discloses the number of patients hospitalized, intubated and in the ICU.
During an emergency school board meeting Monday, the Brevard Public School Board voted 3-2 to impose a 30-day mask policy. Everyone on campuses over 2 years old will be required to wear a face covering unless they are partaking in physical activity. Students can opt out of the policy but will need a note from a licensed medical professional.
School Board members Jennifer Jenkins and Cheryl McDougall and chair Misty Belford voted in favor of the mandate, and member Katye Cambell and vice-chair Matt Susin voted against it, reports News 6 partner Florida Today. The emergency meeting was heated with parents speaking out against or for the mask mandate.
Parrish Medical CEO George Mikitarian issued a statement Wednesday slamming one of the school board members for misusing data the hospital provided.
“Inappropriate conclusions were made based upon the separate and district data points in the daily COVID hospitalization report,” he said in a news release. “Generalizations and trending cannot be gathered from that data.”
Mikitarian did not name the school board member that made the inaccurate statements but said they missed two important pieces of information.
“The data clearly reflected that lack of vaccination is a significant contributor to those patients that are hospitalized, in the ICU and intubated,” he wrote.
Secondly, Mikitarian said the school board member attempted to use the data to argue that the data did not support masks in schools.
“Understanding that those less than 12 years old cannot get vaccinated (57% of school-aged children) then the argument is void,” Mikitarian said.
Because more than half of students can’t get the shots yet, Mikitarian said they should be wearing masks.
“Our data did NOT support not wearing masks as this person argued,” he wrote.
In August, Parrish reported 50 COVID-19 deaths compared to 3 in July.
“Our morgues are full. We have had to place a large refrigerated overflow morgue unit on our campus,” Mikitarian wrote.
As of Tuesday, Parrish had 44 COVID-19 patients, 39 of those patients are unvaccinated, according to the hospital. The hospital system also has 10 in the ICU and nine intubated patients with COVID.