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Florida hospitals are “safe and ready,” but urge caution during Thanksgiving

by | Nov 23, 2020

Despite an influx of more than 1,400 new COVID-19 patients over the past three weeks, Florida’s hospital system is in good shape overall. However, hospital officials are urging caution during Thanksgiving, according to the Florida Hospital Association, which represents over 200 Florida hospitals and health systems in the state.

“Florida’s hospitals are safe, ready and prepared to provide care,” said Mary Mayhew, president and CEO of FHA. “But they need our continued support, and the best way we can show that support is to follow recommended public health guidance.”

Last week, Mayhew met with hospital leaders in the Pensacola area to discuss COVID-19 trends, hospital preparedness and their vision for healthcare in the region. The visit provided her with a firsthand look at the front lines of the fight against coronavirus in Florida’s panhandle.

Statewide, Florida has 3,758 patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, up significantly over the past three weeks from 2,371 on November 1st. That number is expected to continue going up for the foreseeable future, as hospitalizations typically lag new cases by about a week.

On the bright side, three different pharmaceutical companies have announced successful trials of coronavirus vaccines that range between 90 and 95 percent effectiveness. Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced plans to coordinate with Florida’s hospitals in five key regions for the deployment of the vaccine to high-risk personnel. But hospital officials say they can’t get here fast enough.

“While we eagerly anticipate the roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must do our part to prevent the spread of the virus as Floridians prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday,” Mayhew said. “It’s critically important to protect our most vulnerable friends and family members. Teens and twenty-somethings who are home from college must take precaution when interacting with their 85-year-old grandparents this holiday season. With COVID positivity rates steadily rising, we all must remain vigilant and do our part to keep each other safe: wash your hands, wear a mask and practice social distancing.”

FHA strongly urged Floridians to follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health (DOH) recommend limiting celebrations, gathering outside rather than in indoors, masking, social distancing and hand washing, including:

  • Individuals who feel ill during the holiday season should get tested for COVID-19 and avoid going out in public or being around at-risk individuals.
  • Older adults or persons with certain medical conditions who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in their household.
  • Guests who have traveled from other areas or towns should distance themselves from people who are 65 or older and people of any age who have underlying health issues.

As of Monday afternoon, state officials had not released new COVID-19 case data. Sunday saw an increase of 6,586 new cases, and 174 new hospitalizations.

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