MIAMI (WSVN) - Miami-Dade and Broward counties now lead the U.S. in the number of hospital admissions for critical care, as cases of COVID-19 surge in South Florida due to the delta variant.
Video from Memorial Healthcare System captured a busy intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital West in Miramar.
Hospital officials said the ICU has nearly reached capacity with critical COVID-19 patients.
“Most of these patients are in their 30s, their 40s and 50s,” Memorial Hospital Nurse Manager Juana Mejía said. “It’s very sad to have someone dying in the ICU by themselves without the touch of their family, without seeing a loved one.”
The rise in hospital admissions comes as Florida health officials reported more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases in just the past week.
Memorial Healthcare System has more than 420 patients with COVID-19. A total of 55 have been admitted into intensive care, and only one of the patients has been vaccinated. In June, there were less than 90 COVID-19 cases within the system.
“Since June 19 up to today, we’ve seen a four-fold rise in the amount of cases that have been hospitalized,” Memorial Healthcare System Critical Care Dr. Aharon E. Sareli said. “The number continues to grow every day.”
Medical experts said the delta variant of the virus is more contagious than past strains and variants.
“It’s much more contagious than the common cold. It’s about as contagious as chicken pox,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a medical analyst for CNN.
Sareli said people have been getting more sick and faster than previous surges. Some models predict the surge will peak in August or September.
“More than 96% of them are unvaccinated, so it’s a very, very small proportion of vaccinated COVID patients that end up sick enough to require hospitalization,” Sareli said.
The spike has prompted repprters to ask officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whether a national vaccine mandate is in the country’s future.
“That’s something that I think the administration is looking into. It’s something that, I think, we’re looking for approval of the vaccine … I think in general, I am all for more vaccination,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a TV interview.
However, on Friday, Walensky clarified her remarks, saying “There will be no nationwide mandate.”
Doctors said receiving the vaccine does not make people bulletproof against the virus.
“It’s possible that, even if you’ve been vaccinated, you could actually still have a pretty high viral load in your nose,” said Dr. Nicole Saphier, a contributor for Fox News.
However, doctors said, the vaccine has been proven to lessen the chance of people getting severely ill.
“Most patients might say that they don’t believe that COVID is serious,” Mejía said. “They don’t believe that they can get it, but now that they got it and are in the hospital, then they see a different side of the situation.”
The healthcare system has converted conference rooms into hospital rooms as they prepare for more patients.
Cleveland Clinic has seen the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020.
“The situation is so much more tragic now than it was a year ago because now we have a way to prevent this,” Sareli said.
Doctors recommend the public to get vaccinated, practice social distancing and wear masks while indoors.
COVID-19 cases nationwide are back to where they were back in January, right before the vaccine started becoming widely available.
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