UF Shands lists 24 in COVID ICU

The steady decline of COVID-positive patients at UF Shands Hospital continued for the third straight week, hospital officials reported Monday.

Shands reported 91 COVID-positive hospitalizations, which included 24 patients in the ICU and five in pediatrics. Shands also has 89 patients no longer COVID-positive infectious.

The numbers continue a downward trend throughout this month. On Sept. 13, UF Shands had 149 COVID-positive hospitalizations and a high of 245 on Aug. 19, following the delta variant surge that hit in early July.

“This is good news, we can now see a horizon,” UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez told reporters Monday. “The fewer we have COVID infectious, we see that horizon coming. Now none of us can predict that horizon and we can’t tell you that a patient is going to go home in a week or two, or three or four, but eventually we’re going to get them there.”

North Florida Regional Medical Center reported a 51 percent decrease in COVID-positive hospitalizations since Sept. 1.

“A recent forecast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that COVID-19 hospitalizations are expected to decline over the course of the next four weeks,” said North Florida Regional CEO Dr. Sean Benoit. “This news brings hope to our team of dedicated healthcare colleagues who have been on the frontlines battling the pandemic for the past 18 months.”

According to the Florida Department of Health COVID Weekly Situation Report released Friday, Alachua County vaccination numbers are now at 68 percent for people 12 years of age and older.

Alachua County mask mandates were also extended at a Board of County Commissioners meeting Monday.

“We shouldn’t lose sight of creating distance when we can, outdoors better than indoors, we shouldn’t lose sight of the times it is good to wear masks, and we should continue being obsessive about knowing the vaccination status of those around us,” Jimenez said.

Fully vaccinated numbers in surrounding counties include Union at 55 percent, Clay (54 percent), Levy (52 percent), Bradford (47 percent), Columbia (46 percent), Gilchrist (43 percent), Dixie (41 percent), and Suwannee (39 percent).

“With the return of fall events and other activities within the community, it is important that the community keep up their guard against the threat of the virus,” Benoit said. “Some data suggests the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous variants in unvaccinated people. The COVID-19 vaccine still remains the best defense we have against the virus.”

Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) data from Sept. 17 show in the past 14 days, 665 students and 24 students are in quarantine due to COVID-positive tests.

On Monday, ACPS announced a free COVID testing and vaccination clinic is scheduled for 12 to 4 p.m., Sunday, at Oak Tree Learning Academy at 1414 NE 23rd Ave. A photo ID is required to receive a vaccination. Local residents getting the free COVID vaccination will also receive a $25 gift card.

According to a press release, the UF College of Medicine’s Mobile Outreach Clinic will administer doses of the Pfizer vaccine to people 12 and older in cooperation with the Alachua County Health Department. Precyse Coding Solutions will provide the rapid COVID-19 tests.

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