FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - After months of decreasing COVID-19 cases in South Florida, cases have been on the rise in the area, and frontline workers said their patients have gotten younger.
Some patients at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale have regretted not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The numbers have started going up again,” Broward Health Medical Center Chief of Staff Dr. Sunil Kumar said. “It’s really in the last week or so it significantly went up.”
One doctor inside of the hospital’s COVID-19 unit said he has a 15-year-old, a 20-year-old and a 32-year-old as patients inside of the intensive care unit and not all of them will make it.
This week, the Florida Department of Health reported 73,199 cases of COVID-19 throughout the state. Last week, the department reported 45,604 cases of the virus.
“On July 4, Miami-Dade had 386 people testing positive for COVID at a percentage rate of 4.1%,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “Now today, the county reported 2,093 positives with a percent rate of 10.3%.”
Kumar said the delta variant of the virus is more contagious and has been affecting younger, healthier people. He said almost everyone infected with the virus has not been vaccinated.
“Most of them are unvaccinated,” Kumar said. “I would say almost 98.9% are unvaccinated.”
“This has really become a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Broward Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Lenchus said. “The unvaccinated population has definitely taken over with this pandemic.”
Of the 171 patients hospitalized with the virus at Jackson Health, 89.5% are unvaccinated. Of the 128 hospitalized at Broward Health, 92% are unvaccinated.
According to Lenchus, those vaccinated and in the hospital with the virus suffer from other pre-existing conditions.
“They’re all over the age of 60,” Lenchus said. “They all have multiple other medical conditions that have brought them in.”
7News had to suit up in full personal protective equipment to meet with some of the patients hospitalized with the virus, including 47-year-old Shawn Mosses, who has been in the hospital for five days.
“It just attacks your insides,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting this. It really broke me down.”
Mosses spends 18 hours per day laying on his stomach. Otherwise, he said, he cannot breathe.
“If I would have known to take the shot, I would have taken one a while ago because the COVID is real,” Mosses said. “You need it. Don’t put it on hold. Go take the shot. Listen to me. If I would have listened my first mind, I wouldn’t be in this situation right now.”
“This is a young, healthy gentleman,” Kumar said. “Unfortunately, [he] didn’t have all the information about vaccination. Now, he realizes that it was a mistake, and he’s struggling.”
William Hughes also did not get vaccinated against COVID-19 and has returned home to recover. At one point during his battle with the virus, doctors said he might die.
“He told me that I was young,” Hughes said. “I didn’t have any underlying issues, and that they were going to do the best that they could do.”
At another Broward hospital, Angela, who did not give her last name, has been in the hospital for nearly a week battling the virus.
Kumar said the pandemic is shifting, and those who are not vaccinated remain most at risk.
“There’s only one thing that you can do,” Kumar said. “There is no running away from this. You just have to vaccinate. It’s a preventable disease at this point, and you need to help yourself and your family from dying.”
“That is the single best measure at preventing you from being hospitalized or dying due to COVID,” Lenchus said.
Effective immediately at Broward Health Medical Center, only one visitor is allowed per patient per day due to the rising COVID-19 case numbers.
The U.S. government has since ordered 200 million more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
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