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Palm Coast Thursday, Jun. 25, 2020 5 months ago

AdventHealth says it is prepared to handle increase of COVID-19 cases

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Doctors ask the community continue to practice social distancing and wear masks while in public.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

AdventHealth hospitals in central Florida are at an "all-time high" regarding coronavirus-related hospitalizations, said Dr. Vincent Hsu, epidemiologist and infection control officer during AdventHealth's COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, June 25.

“But, we are well prepared to handle this," Hsu said. "We are not in crisis mode.”

To control the spread of the virus, Hsu said people should continue to follow the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control: Continue to practice social distancing and wear face masks when out in public. At AdventHealth, Hsu said they are assessing employees' health as much as possible, including performing temperature checks, monitoring for symptoms, increased cleanings and requiring everyone to wear a mask. These are all evidence-based protocols to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, Hsu said. 

“We wish we didn’t have to wear masks or social distance, but the evidence is very clear," Hsu said. "There is more out in the medical literature, there is more out there that really indicates that keeping your distance lowers your risk from getting infected from someone else.”

While coronavirus cases are rising in Florida — with more than 5,000 cases reported on Thursday, June 25 — the death rate is not. Dr. Eduardo Oliveira, executive medical director of critical care, said this is because they have learned new ways of treating patients on ventilators. He also said it was because the new cases are trending toward the younger population who are generally more resilient. 

“So they tend to tolerate much more, all of what you need to go through when you get very sick, when you end up on the ventilator, so on and so forth," Oliveira said.

When asked about convalescent plasma therapy to treat the coronavirus, Oliveira said while they have had some success in select patients, there are still studies evaluating the treatment for this virus. Convalescent plasma therapy isn't new; it has been used in other viral illnesses. The aim of the therapy is to transfuse a sick patient with antibodies obtained from the plasma of a recovered patient, in hopes that the antibodies will block the virus from causing more inflammation, Oliveira explained. 

Hsu added that the medical community is still learning about COVID-19 antibodies. It can be a good indicator of the overall infection rate in the community, Hsu said, and while it can also be a marker of immunity, there are studies showing it's not a longterm immunity. 

When people are near others, there is a risk of transmission. Until a vaccine is found, Hsu said people should continue to social distance and wear masks. 

“Know that your actions, what you do, affects other people," Hsu said.

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