The rise in COVID this week – more than double the positivity rate in Escambia County – has led hospital and emergency management officials to bring back drive-thru testing sites next week and start reassessing them. resources to cope with an expected increase after the holidays.

Although local officials do not track which variant contributes to individual positive cases, they expect the latest increase to be the result of the omicron variant, which proved to be less severe beforehand but more dissipable.

These factors make it difficult to predict whether the increase in cases will result in a high number of hospitalizations as in other relapses such as the delta variant. However, Ascension Sacred Heart president Dawn Rudolph said on Wednesday that hospitalizations were already starting to increase with 29 patients admitted to the Sacred Heart on Tuesday.

Record:Despite COVID, Hurricane Sally and staff, hotels in the Pensacola area have broken records in 2021

Local cases:Escambia County COVID Cases Up 184.1%; Florida cases increase 332.9%

“Our best tools, our best resources, we just hit the pause button until we need to bring them back, so we’re going to have to start bringing back some of these initiatives that helped manage the last wave,” he said. she declared.

The Ascension Sacred Heart will begin its drive-thru test site on Tuesday using the swab PCR test at its hospital at 5192 Bayou Blvd. After Tuesday, the site will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday without pre-registration or appointments required.

The Baptist Hospital also began to see an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday and is assessing whether changes in staff or resources are needed. The hospital had 18 COVID patients admitted Wednesday afternoon.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation on time and will put in place all the necessary facilities and facilities to provide care to all patients, including those with COVID-19,” officials said on Wednesday. Baptist hospital in a statement.

New cases of the coronavirus in Escambia County increased 184% in the week ending December 23 to 537 cases. The positivity rate was 11.8%, an increase from the positivity rate of 4.6% the week before.

Santa Rosa County reported 249 cases in the last week ending December 23, an increase of 283%. The positivity rate for new cases was 3.4%.

Since the start of the pandemic, local officials such as Mayor Grover Robinson and county staff, community health organizations and hospital leaders have met regularly to determine how best to deal with COVID. Drive-through test sites have been gone since 2020 based on demand, and for much of that year a daily dashboard was available on the City of Pensacola and Escambia County websites to display the daily hospital admissions.

It ceased in the fall when hospitalizations fell low enough to interrupt it, but Rudolph said it was something that would likely return in the coming weeks as hospitalizations increase.

Escambia County Director of Public Safety Eric Gilmore said the threshold was previously to bring the scorecard back when hospitalization rates at the three major hospitals – Sacred Heart, Baptist and West Florida – exceed 50 patients.

“We’ve had a few calls (911) but in terms of a gross increase like we’ve seen in the past, no we don’t see it yet,” Gilmore said. “We had difficulty breathing and calls for shortness of breath but knock on the woods we’re not overwhelmed like the last two significant increases we had and at the moment it’s manageable.”

Emma Kennedy can be reached at [email protected] or 850-480-6979.


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