COVID-19 hospitalization rates begin to decline in Leon County

Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 18:06:51-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Cases in Leon County have been on a steady decline since Jan. 17, where we saw the percentage of positive cases hit 9.34.

That number is down to 8.53 percent. Now local health experts feel the county is on the right track to see those numbers continue to drop.

Currently, 110 people are in Leon County hospitals according to the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration. The hospital ICU bed capacity is at 6.9 percent.

Capital Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Trey Blake said the hospital is now seeing its first big drop in hospitalizations since January.

"We peaked at 87 in patients on Jan. 15. We're now down to the 40s. For us, that's a huge deal," said Dr. Blake.

Dr. Blake said the hospital hasn't operated with that amount of patients since before Christmas.

"We had people who sadly got admitted here were a week after Christmas dinner, 6 people found out they were COVID positive," he said.

With fewer COVID patients to care for, CRMC is now closing some COVID units and returning some nurses to their normal functions.

"Every hospital in this country is now challenged with balancing your normal functions, your surgeries, endoscopy's, ER visits for chest pains. Oh, by the way, you've got a pandemic," he said.

There has also been a decrease in COVID patients at Tallahassee Memorial. Just 40 people were being treated at the hospital for COVID on Thursday.

Chief Integration Officer Dr. Dean Watson said there are three reasons for the decline:

We are further away from the holidays and more get-togethers. The community is now vaccinating people. Plus, following the winter surge, more people started to wear masks and wash their hands.

While a downward trend does not mean we're in the clear, Dr. Blake with CRMC believes this is a good place to be.

"There's a bunch of indicators we look at; community positivity rate, hospitalizations, cases per day. All of our indicators are headed in the right direction. So I'm pretty confident that we're going to continue to see this trend. But as always, we're prepared for things to change," said Dr. Blake.

He said a good indicator of potential hospitalization rate changes is testing rates. If those numbers go up or down, hospitalizations will mimic the trend about a week or so afterward.

Leon County is starting to see a slight decline. The difference between the last two weeks is about 300 tests. The percent positive in the county is just above 8 percent. CRMC said when it drops, so do hospitalizations.

"After our last surge, we as a hospital came to a steady stay which is about 20 hospitalizations per day. That's a good place to be. It really allowed us to function at a high level. We saw less mortality, decreased length of stay," said Dr. Blake.

Vaccinations are playing a slight role in the decline as well. About 70 percent of Capital Regional's hospitalized COVID patients are over the age of 55.

Right now, vaccinations in the county are available for healthcare workers and seniors. In Leon County, close to 39,000 people have been vaccinated.

An important note for anyone who wants to get free testing at the Bragg Memorial site; you are now required to either provide your health insurance or driver's license information.

Both hospitals are joining the Leon County Health Department for another Zoom questionnaire to answer any questions you may have about coronavirus. It's every Friday at noon on their Facebook pages.