POLK COUNTY, Fla. — COVID-19 hospitalizations in Polk county are the highest they have been since the pandemic began. All five Polk hospitals are exceeding 300 cases.
At Lakeland Regional Health, there are 41 patients on a ventilator, seven of whom have COVID-19 and 75 patients in the ICU. It’s the most COVID hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We’re at a very potentially dangerous situation if we don’t take some action and really work to increase awareness around the potential risk that we find ourselves in right now,” said Danielle Drummond, CEO of Lakeland Regional Health.
Doctors at Watson Clinic said patient waiting times are higher than they've been since last March.
“Difficulty in finding healthcare staff. We’ve had obviously physicians and staff members who’ve gotten COVID-19 themselves, and all this just puts further strain on the ability to provide effective healthcare,” said Dr. Steve Achinger with Watson Clinic.
In a special meeting Monday, the Lakeland City Commission heard from doctors on the frontline, about additional precautions to consider, to slow down the spread of the virus. They say wearing masks alone won’t cut it.
“Masks, social distancing and hand hygiene. We really have to do all three of these, especially during these critical times. Whatever we can do encourage the use in the community, if a mandate is required to do that,” Dr. Achinger said.
The Commission also came up with their own recommendations.
“Options include ordering a mask mandate for the next 100 days. Option two, take the Hillsborough County approach, send a request to the County Commission recommending action at the county level,” said Mayor Bill Mutz.
The City Commission is drafting a resolution that will be discussed on Friday.