'It just went boom': Florida ICU's swamped with younger COVID victims
According to a report from the Miami Herald, Florida hospitals are being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients once again in frightening numbers as the Delta variant spreads rapidly among the unvaccinated in the state.
Florida has long been a hot spot for COVID-19 infections as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted recommendations from health officials and refuses to mandate the wearing of masks -- recently giving parents the option of not masking up their kids returning to school.
As the Herald report notes, the new flood of victims flooding in are even sicker than before -- and also younger.
Pointing out that every bed in Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital is filled at the moment, the report notes that every patient was unvaccinated and now suffering the devastating effect of COVID-19.
"The youngest patient, a 27-year-old woman on a ventilator, had to be resuscitated with a bag valve mask after her blood oxygen saturation levels crashed. The oldest, a 71-year-old man, has been in the ICU for two weeks. He has been in a coma for three days. When he awakens, if he awakens, he will be a widower. The man's wife, also hospitalized with COVID-19, died two days earlier," the report states. "Many healthcare workers at Jackson Memorial thought the end of the pandemic was in sight, largely due to the effectiveness of the vaccines. Then the delta variant took hold, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates, and cases are surging again, only at a faster clip."
Describing the sudden surge from variant, Ademola Ayo Akinkunmi, director of patient care services for Jackson Health bluntly stated, "It just went boom," before adding, "No matter how hard we work to discharge patients we know there are others coming."
The report goes on to note, "In Florida, the number of new cases and the rate of positive tests for the virus that causes COVID-19 — a measure known as the level of community transmission — is high in all 67 counties, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. On Saturday, Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases as of July 30, the single-highest daily COVID case count since the pandemic began 18 months ago, according to CDC data. The seven-day moving average soared to 15,817, a more than 750% increase since July 1."
According to Alix Zacharski, manager of the medical intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial, the critically-ill patients they are seeing are way younger -- and way sicker -- than they were during the first wave of COVID victims.
"Unlike last year, we're getting a very young population, which is extremely concerning because this time we're now getting young people without pre-existing conditions," Zacharski admitted. "So that's scarier."
Case in point, the Herald reports, "On a recent weekday afternoon, Zacharski was working in the ICU when a 27-year-old patient's vital signs crashed, triggering an alarm on a computer monitor in the nurses' station. Her blood oxygen saturation levels had dropped suddenly from 95 to 64. Normal readings usually range from 95 to 100, and anything below 90 is considered low. As the patient's heart rate accelerated, Zacharski and her colleagues rushed to the patient's room and removed the ventilator from her throat. Then they applied a bag valve mask, pumping the air bag by hand to force oxygen into the patient's lungs."
"The medical team revived the patient, and her blood oxygen levels slowly recovered. It's possible that the patient's blood oxygen levels crashed because of a mucus plug, Zacharski said, emphasizing that dangerous complications can arise at any time," the report continued with Zacharski adding, "People come down with it within five days and they're really sick. They are coming to the hospital saying, 'I don't feel good. I can't breathe'. That's when you're feeling, 'Oh, this is very different from what it was before.' "
"It's very hard for us when someone's eyes are looking at you, staring at you, deadlocked, pleading and begging you, hugging you to help them breathe," she added. "That's the part that stays with us. It's really hard."
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