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Friday, June 14, 2024

Positive COVID cases drop in Alachua County

UF Health Shands Hospital CEO continues to encourage vaccination

Alachua County’s COVID-19 cases dropped for the second time since November last week. The number of COVID hospitalizations dropped on Monday after rising and falling throughout the last week.

New positive cases decreased to 3,596 from 4,943 cases. The positivity rate went down from 30.7% in the week of Jan. 21 to 27.3%, according to the county COVID-19 dashboard.

Adult hospitalizations fell from 307 in the week of Jan. 21 to 305 on Monday, according to the county dashboard. There are 96 adults in the Intensive Care Unit and 15 on ventilators, as of Monday. Ninety percent of ICU patients are not vaccinated as of Jan. 28, according to the Facebook page.

Last week, 370 people were newly vaccinated. 

On Monday, UF Health Shands Hospital had 151 COVID-positive patients, Shands CEO Ed Jimenez said. Of those, 50 are being treated in the ICU or Intermediate Care Unit. Thirteen patients are under 18 years old, and of those, four are in the ICU.

Sixty-three patients are no longer infectious but continue to receive care, Jimenez said; staff use extra levels of protective equipment as they treat positive and non-infectious patients. 

From a societal perspective, it’s exciting that infectious numbers have gone down, Jimenez said.

Seventy three percent of patients are unvaccinated. Every vaccinated COVID patient has a condition that makes them at high risk, whether it’s organ transplants, cancer or lung and heart disease, Jimenez said. 

“I wish everybody who wouldn’t get vaccinated would meet a patient of ours that’s in the hospital who’s not vaccinated,” he said.

While it’s too early to know the long term effects of the omicron and delta variants, Jimenez said he’s noticed a difference in immediate effects. The delta variant seemed to target peoples’ lungs, while with omicron, Shands staff are seeing lung, heart and kidney issues. 

Approaching nearly two years since the start of the pandemic, hospital staff is tired, Jimenez said. As the public watched each new wave and variant come and go, hospital staff were never able to step away.

“They’ve been taking care of people the whole time,” he said. “Their unit was full at the beginning, and it’s been full ever since.”

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It’s not just physical fatigue, it’s mental fatigue, too, Jimenez said. 

“If you work in our ICU, for nearly two years now you’ve seen death almost on a daily basis,” he said. “They’re no less heroic today than they were in March of 2020.”

Contact Lucille Lannigan Contact her on Twitter @lucillelannigan. 

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Lucille Lannigan

Lucy is a senior journalism major and the metro editor for The Alligator. She has previously served as a news assistant and the East Gainesville reporter for the metro desk as well as the health and environment reporter on the university desk. When she’s not doing journalism you can find her painting or spending time outside.

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