COVID-19 hospitalizations dropping in Florida

The number of people ending up in Florida’s hospitals with COVID-19 continues to drop this week, and that’s good news not just for strained staff but also patients who had elective procedures put on hold.

Florida looks to be in better shape now than a month ago when it comes to people hospitalized with the coronavirus.

"We're looking at about a 40% improvement in the overall census over three weeks and about a 30% improvement in the ICU census," said Justin Senior, the chief executive officer of Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida

Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida represents over a dozen of hospitals including Tampa General and Johns Hopkins All Children's hospitals. 

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Federal data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows 82% of hospital beds across Florida were full Tuesday. That’s down from more than 87% last week, numbers which include patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and those with other conditions.

"They're still at elevated levels. So it's still something that that has hospitals kind of on their toes and on the lookout. But it has definitely gotten significantly better probably in our hospitals," said Senior.

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Doctors said what keeps people outside their doors are more people getting vaccinated, booster shots in the immune-compromised and monoclonal antibody treatments. 

Governor Ron DeSantis said the COVID therapy helps.

"Our focus on treatment with the monoclonal antibodies has made a real difference. Our admissions today are the lowest they’ve been since the middle of July," DeSantis said.

That’s prompting hospital systems like AdventHealth West Florida to start scheduling elective surgeries again. But for those calls to spread to more patients statewide, doctors said more beds need to open up first. 

"What people have been waiting for have been the ICU numbers to go down, because what you want if someone is coming out of an elective surgery, that's major surgery, you want to have an ICU bed available if necessary as that person comes out of surgery," said Senior.

AdventHealth West Florida Division said staff will call patients about scheduling in some elective procedures, but they said visitors are still limited in Tampa Bay area hospitals.