UF Health Jacksonville CEO says COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On the same day that Florida hit a new milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, UF Health Jacksonville’s CEO Leon Haley says they are seeing an increase of cases and hospitalizations.

“So today, for example, we have 38 patients in the hospital. 27 of them are on the floor, 11 of them are in our ICU. We were as low as eight, probably about 12 days ago. So in the last 12 days, we’ve gone from eight to 38.”

Baptist Health says they have 98 COVID-19 patients.

Haley spoke to city council members on the increase of cases and answered questions ranging from how to clean masks, to racial disparity in the cases.

At UF Health In Jacksonville, African-Americans make up for 54 percent of all hospitalizations. Haley says that this can be attributed to African Americans and Hispanics having a difficult time accessing health care.

“So we had already begun to work on trying to change the dynamics in our organization around inclusion, diversity, equity and access,” Haley said.

Haley says they are looking at the future and are preparing for an increase of more cases.

“We look, you know, over the next couple of months and there are a number of things we call it kind of the perfect storm that we have to evaluate as an organization,” Haley said. “We are in hurricane season. As you know, we’ve had a couple, we’ve had at least one named storm already, and we’re not even into the throes of it. So we have to continue to keep our command center open to make sure that we can address any potential hurricanes and how we would respond as an organization. There obviously is the possibility of an even bigger COVID wave. So we’ll continue to look at that over the next couple of months.”

The biggest takeaway from Haley is for people to continue to wear masks and social distance as they are the only preventative measures right now without a vaccine.

“Early on we talked about worrying about, you know, getting past this first wave and worrying about the second wave. And I just want to caution everybody, we are still well into the first wave. We’re still deep into the forest. We have more hospitalizations now than we had in that initial wave,” Haley said. “People are still contracting disease. People are still spreading it. And we’ve got to do everything in our power as a community to reduce that spread. We’ve got to go back to flattening.”

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a General Assignment Reporter for 104.5 WOKV.

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