BayCare worried 'sharp' increase in COVID-19 cases will overwhelm healthcare system

The delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is tearing through the Tampa Bay area and leaders on both sides of the bay are concerned about whether hospitals can keep up.   

Barry Burton, the county administrator for Pinellas, says test positivity has gone from 2% to around 15% in a couple of weeks and with many exhausted healthcare workers in the county choosing other careers, filling shifts is getting more difficult.

"They have low staffing at the same time they are seeing a significant uptick in the number of new cases in relation to the new variant that is causing people to be hospitalized," Burton told FOX 13 Tuesday.   

The BayCare Health System says it’s seen a "sharp" increase in COVID-19 cases at 14 major hospitals, with all most all patients being unvaccinated.

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"BayCare has seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across our health system in the past couple of weeks, including at our 14 acute care hospitals, our ambulatory centers and our physician practice, BayCare Medical Group. At our hospitals, the number of patients with COVID-19 has more than doubled during that time, similar to state and national trends as the Delta variant moves through the country. Of note, the overwhelming majority of our COVID-positive hospital patients are unvaccinated. " 

Burton says these are serious cases with serious illness in unvaccinated people that are in their 20s and 30s. 

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Governor Ron DeSantis has encouraged people to get the vaccine and now county leaders are now begging those who haven’t gotten the shot, to get it soon.  

"We can prevent this from occurring," Burton said.