Tampa General doctor discusses recent increase in COVID-19 deaths, current hospital conditions

Posted at 6:40 AM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 07:49:26-04

TAMPA, Fla. — For four days in a row last week, the state broke its daily COVID-19 fatality rate, totaling to 1,230 new deaths in the past seven days.

  • Monday (July 27): 77
  • Tuesday (July 28): 186
  • Wednesday (July 29): 216
  • Thursday (July 30): 253
  • Friday (July 31): 257
  • Saturday (August 1): 179
  • Sunday (August 2): 62

“In early July we saw that high prevalence of cases in our community from late June sort of start to show up in the hospital,” said Tampa General Hospital Emergency Department Associate Director, Dr. Jason Wilson.

While the state has been shattering records lately, experts don’t expect the case fatality rate to look like it did in New York City because local doctors have had much more time to medically prepare for a surge.

Wilson says they’ve done a good job at keeping the fatalities relatively low.

“Of course we’re going to see some rise to the case fatality rate because there’s always a rise in fatalities after we see a rise in hospital stays,” said Wilson.

Doctors say they’re not letting their guards down.

“What we worry about is that if you hit that surge mark where you really just can’t staff the ICUs or the ventilators or the ECMO devices, that’s when you start to see the case fatalities really jump,” said Wilson.

Tampa Bay area doctors say they’ve had to become flexible and prepare to handle any number of COVID-19 patients on any given day.

Doctors say the average length of stay for Hillsborough County patients who come to the hospital for COVID-19 is about 12 days.

According to Wilson, a few weeks ago they were getting hit every day with very high volumes of admissions and had to create new spaces for all of those patients.

“Some days we surge and we have to go see patients underneath an Emergency Department ramp in an alternate care site environment,” said Wilson.

Wilson says they’re currently not having to create new capacity spaces anymore, and have a pretty good containment of what they can expect numbers to look like right now.

“Now we’re at a place where we kind of just do COVID, but there’s no end in sight. It’s just fortunate that another tidal wave doesn’t look like it’s coming right down the horizon right this moment. We’re always in that risk that one could come because it’s such a burning fire,” said Wilson.

Wilson says local hospitals are still seeing about 60 COVID-19 patients a day in any given facility.

“That’s about two to three times the magnitude what we were seeing back in May and every hospital in the area is kind of in that same place,” said Wilson.