UF Health Shands reports rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations while ICU patients remain low

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:29 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Officials at UF Health Shands are reporting an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations as the omicron variant spreads.

While hospitalizations are spiking, health officials said, as of January 4th, this wave is not overwhelming the hospital the way the delta variant did.

“One different characteristic is obviously if we use ICU’s as a proxy for complexity or severity, it’s less severe, because we have such fewer ICU patients,” said Ed Jimenez, CEO of UF Health Shands.

The hospital is currently reporting 60 COVID-19 patients. That’s an increase from the 21 patients hospital staff were treating on December 20th.

RELATED STORY: COVID-19 cases spike and hospitalizations remain fairly steady as omicron variant spreads

Of those hospitalized, 60% are unvaccinated.

Jimenez said the number of ICU patients remains low at four.

He said he does not expect the hospital to make policy changes or move staff around because of this spike.

“We started to do a lot of that stuff back in delta when the numbers were much higher and the impact on the ICU’s were different,” said Jimenez.

Staff at North Florida Regional Medical Center are treating 43 people for the virus with 11 in the ICU.

In a statement from the hospital, a spokesperson said, “At this time, hospitalizations remain low when compared to the Delta surge we experienced last summer... Vaccinated individuals who have tested positive for the virus are experiencing milder symptoms, which is an encouraging trend.”

Some Gainesville residents have expressed concern about the spike, as students return to the area for the spring semester.

Jimenez said while he can’t predict how that will play out, “All of us were very mindful and aware of the football games, and we never were able to connect the dots between a spike in hospitalizations to football games.”

TV 20 asked Jimenez when he expects this wave to peak. 
He said it could happen sooner than Mid-January because of how fast the omicron variant spreads.

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