“There’s no end in sight”: Local medical expert worries current trend could overrun hospitals

More tests for coronavirus are being taken across Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — New numbers indicate the State of Florida could be entering a new phase in the pandemic.

An upward growth in cases is worrying medical experts who warn that if the spread doesn’t slow down, our hospital system could be overwhelmed.

Florida’s coronavirus cases tell a story of their own, and it’s not a very good one.

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Action News Jax Medical Expert Dr. Michelle Aquino with Baptist said she’s concerned.

“We have to be really concerned with these numbers, and the scary thing, for me, is not only are they going up, but we’re seeing more patients in the hospital that are having COVID,” said Dr. Aquino.

The Florida Dept. of Health reported its highest single-day total Wednesday since the pandemic began, with 5,508 confirmed cases.

On Thursday, the state reported its second highest total 5,004.

However, Dr. Aquino said she pays more attention to the trend.

“If you look at the last, I think it’s been about a week now, our numbers are going up daily,” she said. “It looks like there’s no end in sight.”

The median age for COVID-19 patients in Duval County is 37 years old.

More young people like Eldin Kalac, 26, are testing positive.

“The past few days, I felt like crap. I couldn’t move, really bad fever, and aches,” said Kalac.

Dr. Aquino said the upward trend in cases is also a sign of community spread.

Kalac thinks that’s how he was exposed.

“I honestly think I have gotten it from the gym. I was one of the first few people that went into the gym when it opened up,” he said. “I haven’t really gone anywhere else”.

Aside from social distancing, there’s another proven way to slow down the spread.

“Wearing a mask can save us all that, keep our numbers low, keep us all healthier. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to wear a mask,” said Dr. Aquino.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Florida’s positivity rate has increased from 7.4 percent last week to 14.4 percent this week. That’s almost double the rate.

“Our ICU’s are not full of COVID patients intubated, sick, sick, sick patients yet. But if the numbers keep projecting up the way they’re going now, that is definitely a concern,” said Aquino.

Kalac is feeling better now and he said his significant other will be getting tested as well. He has this message for people in his age group.

“Make sure you wear your face mask, wash your hands every single day, and every single time you leave anywhere, avoid touching your face,” said Kalac.

An upward trend in coronavirus diagnoses could overwhelm hospital capacity in Florida.