TAMPA (WFLA) – The summer is normally the slow season for Dr. Nicole Frommann, but not during the coronavirus resurgence in the Tampa Bay area.
“If we had more space and more exam rooms, we would probably be triple our normal volume,” said Dr. Frommann, a medical director for TGH Urgent Care Clinics in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
On Wednesday, she said 101 patients walked through the doors at the clinic on Gandy Boulevard in Tampa compared to the normal volume of about 50 this time of year.
Dr. Frommann said the rapid rise in new COVID-19 infections is taking a toll on the health care workers at the busy clinics.
“We feel very stressed working with the long hours and seeing such a high volume of sick patients,” she said.
NBC News reports new infections in Florida are up more than 4,500 percent over the past four weeks. That is ten times higher than the next closest state on the list.
The Centers for Disease Control reported 17,859 new COVID-19 infections and 56 deaths on Thursday.
The majority of the sick patients walking into the urgent care clinics are unvaccinated, Dr. Frommann said.
8 On Your Side asked her which aren’t able to go home.
“Usually, it’s when their oxygen levels are low,” Dr. Frommann explained. “Oxygen saturation is basically how we determine that if it’s low they need to go to the hospital.”
Epidemiologist Dr. Jason Salemi from the USF College of Public health says about 8 million vaccine-eligible Floridians are not fully vaccinated as the delta variant spreads quickly.
“It’s about a thousandfold more virus in our respiratory tract than some other strains and so it’s got an increased infectivity,” he said of why this version of the virus is so contagious.
Dr. Salemi said. people infected by the delta variant wills start feeling the symptoms sooner.
“So instead of on average being about six days in the original strain, with the delta variant it is more on average of about four days so it’s making people sicker a little bit more quickly,” he said.
Sore throat is a predominant symptom Dr. Frommann said she is seeing with delta variant cases, in addition to headaches, body aches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and the loss of taste and smell.
As urgent care clinics process a lot of daily covid tests, Dr. Frommann said she asked patients to please be kind to the staff.
Dr. Frommann said she had been hopeful the vaccine rollout would put an end to this pandemic.
“But with this new surge it’s making us wonder if this is something we are going to live with long term,” she said.