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Insight inside Jacksonville hospitals as COVID-19 cases surge

"The people in there now are the people that didn't think it would happen to them," a health care worker told First Coast News.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Hospitals in Jacksonville are filling up with COVID-19 patients. Baptist Health reports 253 patients as of July 20, and UF Health Jacksonville reports 127 on the same date.

A nurse working on the COVID-19 unit inside Baptist Health said people are dying. 

We spoke with two nurses for this story. We will not be naming either nurse because they do not want to get in trouble for talking without prior permission.

The majority of the patients with coronavirus in the hospitals in Jacksonville are not vaccinated, according to the hospitals' spokespersons. 

The Baptist Health nurse said people need to get vaccinated to stop spreading the virus. 

"The vaccine is like a bulletproof vest," she said. "It will not keep you from getting shot, but it will keep you from dying."

She said the delta variant, which was first detected in India, is affecting younger patients.

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"They seem to get sicker faster," she described. "We have a 25-year-old, a mom of a 12-year-old (and) police officers. The people in there now are the people that didn't think it would happen to them."

She said she is seeing patients on average about 45 to 55 years old. She said she worries there won't be enough staff to care for the rise in patients every day.

Another nurse who doesn't work on the COVID-19 unit said they have slowed down surgeries, and some nurses on her unit are being floated to the COVID-19 units. 

"Our patients are sick and this string is contagious," she said. "The hospital is overflowing and converting departments into overflow units."

Down the road at UF Health Jacksonville, the spokesperson for the hospital said they are at a record high with COVID-19 patients. 

The previous one-day record of 125 patients was in set in January. However, on Tuesday, the hospital reported 131 positive cases of COVID-19 among their patients, according to Chad Neilsen, Director of Infection Prevention at UF Health.

The high number of patients is causing hospitals to nearly reach their capacity.

"Certainly you have UF Health North is already running close to capacity, and if not over, depending on the hour," explained Chad Neilsen, Director of Infection Prevention at UF Health. "Here Downtown, we could run out of licensed beds by the end of the week."

First Coast News reached out to Baptist Health for comment on this story. This is the response we received: 

Baptist Health’s five hospitals are all experiencing significant COVID 19 patient admissions. The clinical teams feel the impact and it’s a stressful time for them. We appreciate the care and support they are providing to our patients and their families.  

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