As COVID-19 cases start to rise, local health leaders say ICU beds remain open

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida is beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 cases again, according to health experts.

“We’re seeing more cases, and our hospital operators are following this and tracking this very closely,” Dr. Elizabeth Ransom said. “We’re not seeing any big uptick in our ICU patients.”

Dr. Ransom is the Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for Baptist Health. She said right now their ICU beds are not packed with COVID-19 patients, but they’re ready if there is a third surge.

“We track models quite closely, and one of the models that seems to correlate the most closely with our experience here at Baptist did project an increase in a third wave peaking around Thanksgiving or so,” Dr. Ransom said. “That had predicted that we would start seeing that increase a few weeks ago, which we didn’t actually. But, like I said, we’re maybe starting to see that slight increase now.”

Back in April, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks and gowns were starting to run low.

We first told you back in March when local hospitals were asking for donations. Baptist Health even used a “robot” to disinfect N95 masks for reuse.

However, Dr. Ransom said they are not using that anymore. “We have plenty of PPE,” Dr. Ransom said. “We’ve been stockpiling that for months.” She adds that of the total 184 ICU beds, seven of those are for COVID-19 positive patients.

We reached out to all area hospitals in Duval County for an update on hospital beds and PPE.

  • Memorial Hospital: “We have very manageable levels of COVID-19 patients and we do not have issues with PPE.”
  • UF Health: “We have 695 beds between here and the north campus. Only a small portion of our overall beds are currently being used for COVID. Also, we’re OK on PPE for now.”
  • Ascension St. Vincent’s has no occupancy or supply concerns at this time.
  • Action News Jax received a statement from Mayo Clinic after our story aired Thursday. It reads: “Mayo Clinic currently has capacity to care for our hospital and clinic patients, as well as patients with COVID-19. Mayo continues to closely monitor developments associated with COVID-19, including availability of medical-surgical supplies. Mayo has implemented a robust conservation plan to ensure adequate supplies are available when patient care warrants their use. We continue to encourage our community to follow the safe behaviors that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19: wear masks, practice physical distancing, wash your hands and avoid crowds and social gatherings.”

To view a county-by-county breakdown of hospital ICU bed capacity, click here.