SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) officials said nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have been among people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
About a month ago, the number of COVID-19 patients at SMH was in the single digits and no one was in the hospital's ICU. As of Monday morning, the hospital had 36 patients with the virus. Of those patients, seven are in the ICU.
"Once there is more mobility in a population, interact more, they go out especially indoors, they get into crowded environments and on top of that without masks, that’s a recipe that the virus loves," said Dr. Manuel Gordillo, Sarasota Memorial Infectious Disease specialist.
Hospital officials said many of the patients are younger than the patients the hospital has previously seen. Some patients are in their 30s.
"Some people that are vaccinated may pick up the virus, but they’re asymptomatic or they have like a flu-like illness and relatively mild. When it comes to severe disease, it’s largely unvaccinated folks," said Dr. Gordillo.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital said as for breakthrough infections, most cases continue to be mild. Of nearly 100 patients admitted with COVID to SMH during the past 30 days, only 6 have met the criteria for a break-through infection (patients who test positive for COVID at least 14 days after completing their COVID vaccine series).
Officials with Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center said the majority of its hospitalized patients are not vaccinated.
As of Monday, 102 patients are hospitalized with the virus at Lakeland Regional Health. About 27 people are waiting on test results. About 95% of people are not vaccinated.
Doctors urge people to get vaccinated.
"If we are there to gamble, we can gamble that I’m going to be the 99% that don’t get in the hospital, but you can still have substantial problems," said Dr. Gordillo.
"The Delta variant obviously drives the whole thing because it's a new variant, more transmissible as we said. If it's more transmissible if it gets introduced into a population, we know it's going to find targets and the targets are the unvaccinated."