Alachua County adult ICU beds now 90 percent occupied

Florida’s Agency for The Health Care Administration (AHCA) is reporting that of the 308 adult ICU beds available in Alachua County hospitals on Christmas Eve, only 29 remain unoccupied.

As of 4 p.m. on Dec. 24, the AHCA figures reveal that out of the 260 adult ICU beds at UF Health Shands, 234 are occupied. That means just 10 percent (26) of beds remain available.

Meanwhile, North Florida Regional Hospital has three beds out of 48 available, equating to 6.25 percent of beds remaining.

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Together, the overall occupancy rate is just over 90.5 percent.

A UF Health spokesperson said that in addition to being a Level 1 trauma center, UF Health is a regional referral center for patients seeking the highest level of care. “Right now, we have 78 COVID-19 positive patients in our 1,100 bed hospital,” a UF Health Shands report states. It did not specify how many of those COVID-19 patients are in the ICU.

Additionally, when it comes to Intensive Care Unit, or ICU, beds, the state of Florida licenses hospitals for varying numbers of these beds, UF Health reports: “That does not mean that in a crisis a specific number would be our limit. We have the ability to flex up or down to meet the needs of our patients such as using step-down beds that provide an intermediate level of care for patients with requirements somewhere between that of a medical-surgical unit and the ICU. That also includes making adjustments to staffing levels and other resources required to care for them.”

Residents referring to the Alachua County COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard can see similar results in the data and more details about the number of visits to any emergency department within Alachua County. For example, a visitor symptom report shows COVID-19 symptoms are being reported at a higher rate than flu symptoms.

On May 10th, both symptoms were being reported by the same amount of patients—14. But by Dec. 13th, the last update to those figures reports 116 patients described COVID-like illness symptoms and 44 patients report flu-like symptoms.

The ICU capacity information on the state-run website is a snapshot in time and UF Health reminds those who check capacity that the “hospital census is constantly changing through the day.”

As of 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) Dashboard reports 1,247,546 cumulative COVID-19 cases with 12,853 being reported today.

The death rate from the virus for Florida continues to decline as the overall positivity rate has increased to 14.7 percent statewide versus Alachua County’s overall average positivity rate of 4.94 percent and a two-week average rate of 5.6 percent.

New COVID-19 cases in Alachua County from Dec. 23 reported on Dec. 24 totaled 110. There were 1,625 negative cases reported, which means the daily positivity rate is up from the two-week average of 5.6 percent to 6.34 percent.

Since March 15,026 Alachua County residents have tested positive, along with 156 non-resident cases, 729 hospitalizations and 116 deaths.

Some of the small cities in Alachua County are continuing to grow in positive cases faster than others. When Florida reached the 1-million-case mark on Nov. 30, Alachua County had 12,813.

On Nov. 30 the Alachua/LaCrosse area was at 538. Now it stands at 699 cases.

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