ORLANDO, Fla. — Two of the largest hospital networks in metro Orlando have moved to limit visitors 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
- A day later, Orlando Health announced it was limiting visitors and will re-evaluate as needed
- RELATED: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Central Florida: What you need to know
As of Thursday, AdventHealth Central Florida said it had 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.
AdventHealth 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.
That means hospitals 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.
As for visitors, AdventHealth said patients who do not have COVID-19 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.
At Orlando Health, the company said Friday that it has adjusted its visitation policy because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
The news was first reported by our partners at the Orlando Sentinel.
Patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 can have two visitors daily during visiting hours, Orlando Health spokesperson Nicole Ray told the Sentinel. Adults can bring a masked child under 3 to all hospitals as a second visitor for non-COVID patients, except in the Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Patients at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital are limited to the same two adults as visitors throughout their entire hospital stay, the Sentinel reported.
Each patient in emergency or surgical areas can have one visitor daily, but no minors are allowed in those areas, Orlando Health told the Sentinel.
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,” Dr. Timothy Hendrix said. “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 are coming in with a mild cold, or an upper respiratory infection, and test positive for COVID-19. 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.”
It is been few months since Vernet Stallworth suffered through the coronavirus, saying for her, it was a horrible experience.
“Every cell in my body felt like it was painful and just to rub my hands across my skin that hurt,” Stallworth said.
Stallworth has not gotten the vaccine and AdventHealth doctors say the vast majority of their coronavirus patients are unvaccinated.
“There’s a lot of unvaccinated. And as Dr. Walensky with the CDC has indicated, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated right now,” said Henrix, the medical director at AdventHealth Centra Care.