Update, Jan. 5:
The number of local COVID-19-related hospitalizations continues to surge.
As of Jan. 4, Halifax Health’s COVID-19 census more than doubled from the day before. The hospital system now reports 40 COVID-19 patients, with seven in intensive care. Of the hospitalizations, two are children.
AdventHealth hospitalizations continue to climb, too. The hospital system’s medical centers in Volusia and Flagler counties reported 125 patients hospitalized with the virus as of Jan. 5.
As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, AdventHealth Orlando Chief Medical Officer Vincent Hsu said the peak is still yet to come.
“We are still on the rise right now,” Hsu said during a Jan. 5 press conference. “Usually, when you have a steep curve like this, it means when you hit the peak, the numbers will come down.”
As hospitalizations increase, Hsu said the AdventHealth system has observed more children among them.
“It’s probably because of the sheer number of infections that have occurred,” Hsu said.
In Volusia County, public-school classes resumed Jan. 4, and Hsu had a recommendation for preventing the spread of COVID among students and staff as the current surge rages.
“My recommendation, as an epidemiologist, as an infectious disease expert, is that we should keep masks on our children at all times in school,” he said. “I recognize that is not the landscape we’re in right now, but we want to encourage every child to wear their masks.”
And, as usual, the doctor stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.
“Even though we recognize that vaccinations are somewhat less protective against the omicron variant, and that’s why the boosters are so important, to get that level of antibodies up,” Hsu said. “We are seeing that the serious illnesses are largely still among those that are unvaccinated.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are available to everyone age 5 and up. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, or to find out where to schedule an appointment, visit www.vaccines.gov.
The original story continues below.
The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to climb locally and statewide.
During the week of Dec. 10-16, Volusia County reported only 300 new cases. Fast-forward to Dec. 24-30, and that number exploded to 3,939 new cases reported in a week.
Statewide, cases during the week of Christmas more than doubled, from 128,186 the week before, to 298,455 new COVID-19 cases across Florida.
Those statistics may not completely capture the number of cases in the area, either.
With more at-home tests available since the previous COVID-19 spike, many people may be testing themselves and not reporting positive cases, Florida Department of Health in Volusia County spokesman Ethan Johnson told The Beacon.
Increased case numbers have begun to translate into more local hospitalizations, too.
Halifax Health reported 18 COVID-19-related hospitalizations as of Jan. 3, including three in intensive care. AdventHealth Central Florida had 95 people with COVID-19 in hospitals in Volusia and Flagler counties.
Hospital officials continue to stress the importance of getting vaccinated and sticking to mitigation measures, including wearing a face covering when social distancing is not possible.
AdventHealth Central Florida hospital officials are encouraging fully vaccinated individuals to get a booster shot. As of Jan. 3, the Pfizer booster shot is approved for use in children age 12 and up, while the Moderna booster shot is available for everyone age 18 and older.