COVID-19 is spreading in Tallahassee, but most cases are not severe
More than 80 percent of the patients at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare who have tested positive for COVID are there for reasons not related to the virus. A hospital vice president says current subvariants are acting like a mild virus, much like the flu — for now.
Most of Florida is listed by the CDC as high risk for COVID-19. But Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare's vice president and chief integration officer, Dr. Dean Watson, says that’s not a complete picture.
Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes people in the hospital who test positive for the coronavirus but who might be asymptomatic or who are there for another reason.
“When we look at it we say, 'Hmmm,' our level may not be as high as it is indicated in the CDC’s numbers, because we may not have as many infected people in the hospital so maybe we would fall more to the medium level," Watson says.
More than 80 percent of the patients at the hospital who have tested positive for COVID are there for reasons not related to the coronavirus.
In general, while the current subvariants of the virus are spreading easily, the symptoms for most people are less severe. Watson says the current COVID subvariants are acting like a mild virus, much like the flu, but that could change.
“You know, as this virus mutates, it just happens that it has mutated to the point where it is more of a nuisance than a threat. We hope that it continues to mutate to the point where it acts like a mild infectious virus. But you never know, these viruses mutate rapidly. The next one could be more aggressive. We monitor that on a daily basis." Watson says.
Watson says vulnerable people with preexisting conditions or compromised immune systems can still get very sick or even die from the current COVID variants. He encourages everyone to consider the impact they could have on those around them and says anyone who has been exposed to the virus or who has symptoms should stay home. If staying home is not possible, he says people who are sick should wear an N95 or KN95 masks.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released data Wednesday that showed 4,322 Florida inpatients had COVID, up from 4,168 in a Tuesday count. Also, the new data said 437 Florida inpatients with COVID were in intensive care units, up from 408 on Tuesday.
During a press briefing Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the nation has seen a doubling of hospital admissions since early May.
Federal officials said the omicron subvariants known as BA.4 and BA.5 have been increasing.
“We do not know yet about the clinical severity of BA.4 and BA.5 in comparison to our other omicron subvariants, but we do know it to be more transmissible and more immune evading,” Walensky said.
She and other federal officials emphasized the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly for people over age 50 to get second booster shots.
Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.
Copyright 2022 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.