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TMH VP: half of current COVID-19 hospitalizations are ‘incidental’ patients

Tuesday, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare reported 35 COVID-19 patients, up from 32 on Monday.
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 5:22 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tuesday, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare reported 35 COVID-19 patients, up from 32 on Monday.

Capital Regional Medical Center reported 28 cases while South Georgia Medical Center reported 33 as the Omicron surge continues across our area.

But, some are asking what do those hospitalization figures really mean? Are all of those in the hospital with COVID-19 there because of severe symptoms?

It’s a growing debate among some in the community, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and even Leon County School officials.

Dr. Dean Watson, the Vice President and Chief Integration Officer at TMH, says it’s a near 50/50 split when it comes to patients in the hospital. Half are there because of severe COVID symptoms, and the other half are what he calls “incidental” COVID patients, or patients who are in the hospital for another reason and get the virus.

He says it’s an important distinction and he works each day to sort out each case.

“I review every single case every single day to insure that those who are truly infected are counted and those not experiencing symptoms but have the infection are counted in the incidentals, we’ll try to do our best to give you good information,” he said.

But, Dr. Watson made clear the overall hospitalization number is still important: Each positive case, no matter the kind, requires isolation measures that take more staffing and resources.

Meanwhile, Dr. Watson said current treatments remain limited. Some Monoclonal antibodies treatments are no longer effective against Omicron, he says. Others remain in limited supply.

Tina Vidal-Duart is the CEO of CDR Health, a business that offers monoclonal antibodies, testing, and vaccines. She says reports of treatment shortages are accurate.

“We are getting some supply, but it is still not enough for the positivity rates here in Florida,” she said.

Dr. Watson said those treatments should be reserved for those only with underlying conditions, where developing severe COVID symptoms is a distinct possibility.

And while Gov. Ron DeSantis has focused on treatments and getting enough supply in recent press conferences, Dr. Watson emphasized the messaging for vaccination should not slow down, either.

“We need to reverse and shift our focus,” he said. “Yes, and you love to have good treatments. But prevention is always key,” he said.

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