Local healthcare workers on the front lines of delta surge
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
The front of Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee. Photo by Palms West Journal
The nationwide surge of COVID-19 infections has resulted in a surge in COVID-19 related hospitalizations while only 57% of all Florida residents have been fully vaccinated.
“Viruses have variants. That’s how they continue to work,” said Palm Beach County health director, Dr. Alina Alonso in a school board meeting on Sept 1. “The vaccine is doing its job. Why? Because the vaccine’s job is to keep you out of the hospital and stop you from dying... So far, it’s working against all of the variants.”
Viruses can mutate over time into different forms, or variants. These mutations occur because of minor changes in the genetic code that occur during replication.
The Delta variant is one of the most dangerous. It is believed to be 55 percent more transmissible than the original Alpha strain.
Total cases and hospitalization continue to improve. Palm Beach County has seen a decrease of 39% in hospitalizations over the last two weeks. However, hospitalizations from COVID still remain high throughout the state with over 7,000 people still hospitalized. While this is a decrease in comparison to previous months, it is still extremely high compared to hospitalizations in 2020.
Yong Sing da Silva, the medical director of inpatient pediatrics at Palms West Hospital, stressed the importance of acknowledging how dangerous the delta variant can be for those who are not vaccinated.
“This is the highest volume that we have seen at our institution since the start of our pandemic, so it’s hard to say if the sickest cases that we are seeing are so sick truly because the delta variant is more aggressive and causes more severe disease or if there is just more widespread infection,” da Silva said in late August.
“If you are unvaccinated, I would be very concerned about the delta variant,” he said.
Vaccinations are on the rise in Florida. 67% of Florida’s adults are fully vaccinated. Florida ranks about the middle of the pack regarding vaccinations. It is the 18th most vaccinated state.
Entrance sign to Palms West Hospital.
Florida saw an increase in the number of vaccinations per day in August, reaching about 85,000 doses per day. Those numbers have decreased throughout September. By the end of September, the state was administering about 53,000 doses per day, still higher than the less than 40,000 doses per day in July.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County offers free COVID-19 vaccinations without appointments.
Businesses and other organizations interested in holding a mobile vaccination clinic for employees or clients should visit www.hcdpbc.org, click the purple “Mobile Clinic Vaccination & Community Event Request” button, and submit the completed form.
The county and state have partnered to open another public testing site at the Mid County Senior Center, 3680 Lake Worth Road, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Besides the many locations found at www.pbcgov.com, most commercial pharmacies and physician offices can do COVID testing for little or no cost. Many of those sites also offer vaccines.
“Some of the most severe cases we have seen of COVID-related pneumonia have been of the adolescent age population,” da Silva said. Coronavirus patients in the pediatric unit range from 2 weeks to 19 years old.
“Please get vaccinated,” da Silva said.
The vaccination offers a “tremendous measure of protection,” he said. “It continues to present protection from hospitalization, severe illness, and death,” including the delta variant.