A hospital chain in Florida’s Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, currently has the “highest number of patients” it has ever seen.
At least one-third of the 1,600 patients in the county who were receiving care in the health care system Wednesday had COVID-19, The Associated Press reported. There are typically around 1,400 patients in the system at one time, Dr. Marc Napp, Memorial Healthcare System’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference Wednesday.
“This is the highest number of patients Memorial has ever seen,” he said.
Napp added that it was not the highest number of COVID-19 patients the hospitals had seen at one time, with last summer still holding the record.
“However, the numbers are rising and it’s pretty sure that we’re going to surpass those numbers,” he said. “Our peak last summer was 600. We’re at 537 today.”
Statewide, case numbers are already 13% higher than the July 2020 peak.
Patients were in additional beds lined up in cafeterias and a conference center among the health care system’s six hospitals, officials said. And there is no sign that the skyrocketing trend of new cases of the delta variant of the disease was going to fall anytime soon. Some 97% of the COVID cases at Memorial are unvaccinated people.
The overwhelming influx of patients is forcing Memorial Healthcare to suspend all elective surgeries.
“The numbers are unprecedented,” Napp told CBS-4 TV. “There are only so many beds, so many doctors, only so many nurses. This has been exhausting for our staff.”
Florida reported more than 12,400 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 2,500 individuals in intensive care units in hospitals throughout the state.
Nearly 18,000 new cases on average are being reported each day in the state, compared to an average of less than 2,000 recorded in the first week of July. Florida’s total COVID-19 death count since the beginning of the pandemic has passed 39,100.
The most heartbreaking statistics involve children. The total number of pediatric coronavirus patients in the state is 135, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Only Texas has more pediatric COVID-19 cases, with 142 as of Tuesday.
The sharpest hike in Florida COVID-19 infections over the past month has been among children under the age of 12, who can’t yet receive any of the three vaccines available in the U.S., according to a Miami Herald analysis of weekly COVID-19 cases.
Ronald Ford, chief medical officer for Florida’s Memorial Healthcare hospital in Hollywood, said its emergency rooms are seeing far more symptomatic cases among children than during previous COVID-19 waves.
“This is different,” he told the Miami Herald. “There’s a much higher percentage of pediatric patients becoming infected and symptomatic.”
Despite the overwhelming numbers in his state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) continues to rail against mask mandates and refuses to push vaccinations.
“Florida is a free state, and we will empower our people. We will not allow Joe Biden and his bureaucratic flunkies to come in and commandeer the rights and freedoms of Floridians,” DeSantis said in a fundraising email on Wednesday.
The number of people in the U.S. who are hospitalized with COVID-19 has almost quadrupled over the past month to nearly 45,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi alone account for more than 40% of all hospitalizations in the nation.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that 1,600 patients were admitted to the hospital system in one day. This was actually the number of patients who were in the hospital at one time.
Also on HuffPost
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.