ORLANDO, Fla. — AdventHealth announced Thursday it was raising its COVID status to yellow in response to growing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.


What You Need To Know

  •  AdventHealth says COVID hospitalizations are rising faster than at any time during the pandemic

  •  AdventHealth is defering new elective surgeries requiring in-patient admission, limiting visitors 

  • The move affects hospital across the Central Florida network

  • RELATED: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Central Florida: What you need to know

The Central Florida hospital network has 720 hospitalizations because of COVID-19. Officials say that's surpassed the peak for hospitalizations in May. 

While it's not the highest number the hospital network has seen — AdventHealth last saw 900 hospitalizations across the division in January — hospital officials say the contagiousness of the Delta variant and the rate of rise has them concerned. 

"We are now seeing about the fastest rate of increase that we have seen during the course of this entire pandemic," said Dr. Neil Finkler, the chief clinical officer.

The vast majority of the hospitalizations are from unvaccinated people, Finkler said, 95% in fact. Very few of the breakthrough cases among those who are vaccinated end up being admitted to the hospitals.

 

The hospital has moved to "Yellow" status as a precaution, the next level up in its color-coded capacity system, which is based on staffing capabilities and resources.

AdventHealth says that means it will defer new elective surgeries that require inpatient admission. Exceptions for those needing an ICU stay must be approved by administration.

Outpatient surgery sites and other procedural sites will continue as normal, and so will pediatric surgery.

AdventHealth is also limiting visitors again. Patients who do not have COVID will be allowed two visitors a day, while patients who are COVID positive will be allowed only one visitor a day. 

Also, everyone in the hospitals must wear masks, including in non-clinical areas.

However, AdventHealth West has announced that there are currently no changes to elective procedures or the visitors' policies at AdventHealth locations in Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco and Pinellas counties. 

Meanwhile, Orlando Health indicated that it also has seen an increase in hospitalizations, but it is not currently making changes regarding elective procedures or visitors.

AdventHealth officials say it's not just hospitalizations. The rise in cases is happening at a faster pace than during the 2020 holidays.

“We are definitely seeing increase in cases at Centra Care,” said Dr. Timothy Hendrix. “We’ve gone to about 25% positivity rate, so the chances of somebody having illness and coming to Centra Care is about one in four that they're gonna test positive, which is a lot more than we were just a month ago at 7%.”

Hendrix says the biggest problem, besides the Delta variant itself, is asymptomatic spread. He says people come in with a mild cold, or an upper respiratory infection, and test positive for COVID. He is urging even those who are vaccinated to wear masks. 

“We see people that have the virus, don’t know they have the virus, and have potential to spread," Hendrix said. "So as numbers rise in the community and higher rate of transmission in the community, it's best we all wear masks because even though we’re vaccinated, there can still be some breakthrough cases and still possibility of transmission.”

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