AdventHealth returned to “yellow” status in response to the latest surge in Covid-19 cases, the health system announced Thursday durings its weekly pandemic briefing.
The move means that new elective surgeries that require inpatient stays will be deferred, and each campus’ chief medical officer will review all cases that require a stay in the intensive care unit. Surgeries that are already scheduled, pediatric surgeries and procedures at outpatient surgery centers will not be affected.
About 720 people were hospitalized Thursday, July 22, with Covid-19 in AdventHealth hospitals across Central Florida, a number that is still below the peak of about 900 Covid patients in January.
“Our numbers continue to rise,” said Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division, in a news release. “The rate of the increase is somewhat concerning. We are now seeing about the fastest rate of increase that we have seen throughout the course of the pandemic.”
Dr. Finkler said the cases are being driven largely by the highly contagious Delta variant, which has highlighted the importance of the vaccine in the fight against the pandemic. While vaccinated people can contract the virus, the vaccine prevents them from becoming very sick. About 95% of Covid patients who are hospitalized are unvaccinated.
AdventHealth will also return to a more limited visitor policy. Non-Covid patients will be allowed two visitors on campus at a time. Covid-positive patients are limited to one visit with one visitor per day. Pediatric COVID-positive patients will be allowed two adult caregivers to visit at a time.
Also, all team members and visitors will be required to wear masks at the hospital, even in non-clinical areas.
“Our biggest problem with this virus is asymptomatic spread,” said Dr. Tim Hendrix, senior medical director for AdventHealth’s Centra Care, in the release. “It’s safest for everybody to wear masks at this time. We know they are highly effective.”
The rate of positive Covid tests at Centra Care has increased dramatically in recent weeks, often an indicator of future hospitalizations.
“The reality is we are seeing a lot of sick people and it came on us fairly quickly,” Dr. Hendrix said.
The Central Florida region includes AdventHealth hospitals in Daytona Beach, DeLand, New Smyrna Beach and Orange City.