COVID-19 hospitalizations hit record high at Lakeland Regional Health with a third of patients under 50, doctors say


LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — COVID-19 hospitalizations have skyrocketed past previous records at Lakeland Regional Health, with more than a third of the people severely sick under the age of 50, according to hospital leadership.

“We have seen a concerning trend in the number of younger people being impacted,” wrote Dr. Daniel Haight, Lakeland Regional Health Vice President of Community Health and Medical Director of Infection Prevention, in a statement. “Close to 38 percent of those currently receiving care at our hospital for COVID-19 are younger than 50, and many of these younger patients are requiring high-flow oxygen because of the difficulty breathing.”

As of Monday morning, Lakeland Regional Health was treating 247 patients with COVID-19, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Twenty-three patients were in the ICU while 20 patients were on a ventilator.

According to a hospital spokesperson, it greatly surpasses the previous high of 180 COVID-19 hospitalizations in January.

“Unvaccinated patients make up 95 percent of our current COVID cases in our medical center,” said Timothy Regan, president of Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, in a video posted to the hospital’s Facebook page.

“My family and I have been vaccinated,” Haight said in the video. There’s a vaccine waiting for you.”

The trend at Polk County’s largest hospital follows a statewide trend.

The current hospitalization levels in Florida, 10,389 patients, are the highest since the pandemic started, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

“We have 25-year-olds who are in the hospital in intensive care on ventilators,” said Mary Mayhew, Florida Hospital Association president & CEO, on MSNBC Monday morning.

This weekend, Florida marked its highest one day COVID-19 case total, with more than 21,000 cases.

According to Mayhew, half of the people hospitalized in the state are under the age of 55.

“Governor, Department of Health, what are you waiting for?” asked Nikki Fried, Agriculture commissioner and democratic candidate for governor in a press conference Monday.

Fried is calling for the return of daily case reports from the Florida Department of Health.

“I am asking our governor to please declare a state of emergency, so our state can stand up more testing and more vaccination sites using federal dollars,” she said.

State data shows 61 percent of eligible Floridians have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

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