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AdventHealth Hospitals In Orlando Region Report Decline In COVID Patients

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for AdventHealth's Central Florida Division, raised a concern about other variants becoming a problem because of the number of unvaccinated people.

Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for the Central Florida Division, says cases in the seven-county region have peaked and "we are looking at the beginning of what we believe to be a downward curve.”

AdventHealth hospitals in the greater Orlando area have reported a drop in the number of COVID19 patients from the previous week, a sign that the surge sparked by the delta variant may soon decline.

About 1,380 patients with COVID were being treated through the AdventHealth’s seven-county CEntra Florida Division, while 1,620 were reported the previous Friday.

“For the last three days we’ve seen numbers starting to fall,” Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for the division, said during a briefing Friday. “I do believe we have not only plateaued, but that we have peaked and we are looking at the beginning of what we believe to be a downward curve.”

Finkler said a higher rate of vaccination in the community as well as mask-wearing will be crucial to a sustained drop in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Finkler did raise a concern that new variants of the coronavirus could eventually become a problem.

“The bigger the pool of unvaccinated people we have, the more likely it is that we will see more variants emerge,” Finkler said.

AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division encompasses more than 20 hospitals and emergency departments in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Polk, Volusia and Flagler counties.

The drop in patients comes amid reports that the division was at capacity in its morgues due to the spike in COVID cases and a backup at funeral homes. AdventHealth confirmed it has to put more resources in place to store more bodies after WFTV-TV in Orlando reported the division was renting refrigerated coolers.

Orange Mayor Jerry Deming said the county’s Division of Emergency Management was notified that some crematoriums and hospital morgues are at capacity. Demings said the county will see what help it can offer to hospitals and crematoriums whose morgues are full.

While virus-related hospitalizations recently started leveling off, the number of daily reported deaths is continuing to climb. The federal government says Florida hospitals have reported roughly 279 patients dying every day for the past week. A month ago, that figure stood at 52.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.