“It felt like we were ready to move in the right direction and start seeing it plateau. And it was a surprise to see it trend up like it did,” said Erika Mergl, nurse manager for the Tampa General Hospital’s Global Emerging Diseases Institute. It was just six weeks ago that some of the team thought they may be out of the woods, with metrics steadily trending down across the country. However, virus-related hospitalization levels are now nearing peak levels.
“Right now, at Tampa General Hospital, we are really feeling the crush of this increase incidence of COVID-19, and so the delta area has really brought many patients to our emergency room, requiring treatment and admission,” Peggy Dugan, the executive vice president and chief medical officer at the hospital, told ABC News in an exclusive interview. On Tuesday this week, more than 1,450 patients with COVID-19 were admitted to hospitals across the state, marking the highest number of patients seeking care within a 24-hour period in Florida since the onset of the pandemic.
Erika Mergl, Nurse Manager for Tampa General Hospital’s Global Emerging Diseases Institute speaks with ABC News’ Trevor Ault in Florida. “It feels like it’s an impending storm … there’s no off ramp to this getting worse,” Dr. David Wein, an emergency room physician at Tampa General Hospital in Florida, told ABC News on Wednesday.
One of the hospital’s unvaccinated patients is 64-year-old patient Gerard Considine, who spent nine days intubated after he tested positive for the virus. “I’m not used to being scared of anything, but this scared the hell out of me,” Considine told ABC News. Many of the patients at Tampa General are younger, Dugan said, some as young as 22 or 23 years old, and “almost” all of them have been unvaccinated, the hospital said.
The situation in Tampa is not an anomaly. Nearly every state in the country is now experiencing case, and COVID-19 hospitalization increases. Virus-related hospitalizations levels are now at their highest point since April, with nearly 33,700 patients receiving care — about 10,000 more patients than a week ago. “We’re getting to numbers that were as high as last summer. In early July, we were down to 12 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and today we have 80. So we’re really just seeing an escalation over a short span of time,” Duggan said.
The News Highlights
- Florida frontline workers say the current rise in COVID-19 ‘looks like an impending storm’
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