‘It’s just been nonstop’: BayCare seeing more COVID-19 patients than ever before, hospital leaders say


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis was in town Thursday to discuss the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments in the fight against COVID-19 as a fourth surge of cases hits some Tampa Bay area hospitals.

The governor spoke at Tampa General Hospital’s Global Emerging Diseases Institute as some hospitals, including BayCare Health System, say they are seeing more COVID patients than ever.

Across Florida, roughly 12,000 patients are hospitalized.

“It’s just been nonstop,” BayCare COO Glenn Waters said.

The summer is usually the slow season for hospitals – but not this year. Waters says BayCare is caring for more than 800 COVID patients.

With hospitals full and staffing tight, BayCare is forced to pause some elective procedures.

“When you drive around in the community, it feels like nothing is going on because everything is hustle and bustle and very, very busy but yet, we’ve got more COVID patients in the hospital now than we ever have,” Waters said. “So I think the community just really needs to be aware that this is an issue.”

8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi asked Gov. DeSantis on Thursday why the Tampa Bay area is seeing this peak and what the state is doing to address it.

“So I think we anticipated and I said publicly this is our COVID season, we thought we would see an increase,” he said.

But not this much of an increase, he admitted. Gov. DeSantis said the delta variant is clearly more contagious.

With the majority of seniors vaccinated in Florida, the younger unvaccinated group is filling up hospitals.

Some Tampa and Orlando hospitals are breaking records but the governor says parts of the state, including Miami-Dade, are seeing less COVID patients than before.

Part of the state’s tactic to combat hospital surges: Get out the message about monoclonal antibody treatments.

“The name of the game is – if you’re infected, we just want you to be okay,” DeSantis said. “And if you do this, the chance of you having one of those 14-day hospital stays in the ICU goes down dramatically.”

Much of the public isn’t familiar with the treatment that neutralizes the virus – but if taken early with the onset of symptoms, doctors say it’s incredibly effective. Doctors say this treatment works whether you are vaccinated or not.

For more information on Monoclonal antibody treatment, you can visit Tampa General Hospital’s website.

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