68 Percent of Florida Hospitals Expect to Hit Critical Staffing Shortages as COVID Surges

A survey from the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) released on Tuesday shows 68 percent of Florida hospitals expect to reach a "critical staffing shortage" within a week's time.

The FHA, a health care advocacy group, conducts a twice weekly survey of how COVID-19 is affecting state hospitals. The most recent findings of 68 percent of hospitals anticipating a substantial shortage is an increase of 8 percentage points from four days earlier of a similar survey.

Florida Ambulance
Hospitals in Florida expect a critical staff shortage in the upcoming days, according to a new survey. In this photo, medics prepares to transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables, Florida, on July 30, 2020. Chandan Khanna/AFP

The survey recorded responses from hospitals that represent 87 percent of Florida's acute care hospital beds, according to the FHA. Other findings in the survey include 20 percent of COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units and 14 percent of COVID-19 patients are on ventilators.

The data from FHA reflects the toll Florida's spike in COVID cases resulting from the Delta variant is taking on the state's health care system. Florida and Texas account for 40 percent of new hospitalizations in the U.S., according to White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients during a Thursday press briefing. For context, Texas is home to 8.6 percent of the nation's popularity, while 6.4 percent of Americans live in Florida.

Zients also noted that the situation in Florida is especially dire, given the state alone accounts for more cases than the 30 states with the lowest infection rates combined.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that hospitalizations hit 15,796 on Thursday. Florida has a vaccination rate of 49.8 percent, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Naples Daily News reported that data from the state hospital association showed that Florida hospitals were running at 145 percent capacity on Tuesday. The previous COVID-19 peak for that number was on July 23, 2020.

The paper wrote in a story published Friday that the state hospital association also reported that 85 percent of beds in Florida hospitals were in use by all patients and 90 percent of intensive care unit beds were in use. Additionally, the data showed almost 33 percent of all patients in Florida hospitals have the coronavirus.

"As our hospitals provide complex care to ever increasing numbers of COVID patients and with unusually high numbers of very ill non-COVID patients, our front line health care heroes are finding themselves stretched thin and physical and mental exhaustion is taking its toll," Mary C. Mayhew, President and CEO of FHA, said in a news release. "This new delta variant is extremely infectious and leading to 25 and 35 year olds hospitalized for COVID. Getting vaccinated can save your life."

"Don't risk it. Get the vaccine," Mayhew added.