Florida changes ICU reporting

Coronavirus in U.S. State Florida, Female Doctor Portrait, protect Face surgical medical mask with Florida Flag. Illness, Virus Covid-19 in Florida
The change could reduce the number of occupied ICU beds being reported to the state. 

Amid a surge in Florida coronavirus cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ administration is changing the guidelines for hospitals’ reporting of intensive-care beds in the state Emergency Status System, or ESS.

In a phone call with hospital providers this week, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who’s also the secretary of the Department of Health, said he no longer wants hospitals to report to the state the number of patients in intensive-care unit beds.

Instead, Rivkees said he only wants hospitals to report the number of patients in those beds who require what he described as an “intensive level of care.”

The change could reduce the number of occupied ICU beds being reported to the state.

“There has been new wording in terms of, do individuals have intensive-level care,” Rivkees said, noting that some hospitals have located COVID-19 wards within intensive-care units and are reporting all COVID-19 patients as ICU patients. “So make sure that when you are giving us numbers of individuals in intensive-care units, it’s those individuals having intensive-care unit care.”

The switch in reporting comes as the daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to climb at a record-high pace. The state on Friday said there were 3,822 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the overall number of  COVID-19 infections to 89,748. There have been  3,104 deaths related to the coronavirus in Florida.

And the number of unoccupied ICU beds is decreasing.

Florida has both adult-ICU beds and pediatric-ICU beds. Since COVID-19 poses a more deadly threat to older adults than children, the focus has been on the number of adult-ICU beds.

As of Friday, the average adult-ICU bed availability was 22 percent statewide, according to the ESS system. But adult-ICU bed availability varies by county, and some COVID-19 hot spots appear to be running out of open beds as the potential need for them increases. For example, Palm Beach County has 407 adult ICU beds but just 78 — or 19 percent — were unoccupied and available for use.

In Broward County, roughly 18 percent of the 460 adult-ICU beds in the county remained available Friday morning. Miami-Dade County has 971 ICU beds but just 245 are unoccupied and available for use.


Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • DisplacedCTYankee

    June 22, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Holy crap! “Intensive Care Unit” does not necessarily mean that intensive care is being provided. George Orwell was right. Up is down, etc.

    Way to go, Governor DeMAGA.

    • It's time to quit

      June 22, 2020 at 10:42 am

      …or the state is just trying to get a better idea of the drain on a hospital’s resources. But sure, blame the politicians for the lack of clarity in the medical industry.

      • Neil Spangler

        June 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm

        Only a true moron doesn’t know what ICU stands for and what’s required to be there. This is simply about CYA.

  • Marla Hughes

    June 22, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    I noticed you didn’t mention that Florida has opened back up elective surgeries again recently. There’s a huge backlog. Not to mention the other, necessary surgeries that have to go through ICU at least briefly.
    I have been in ICU 3 times in the last decade due to my facial surgeries. Once it was a week, another time it was a few days and the last was for a 24 hour period to monitor them putting the trach back in (that was scary).
    What is called ‘elective surgery’ often isn’t. Knee replacement for an elderly diabetic will likely end up in ICU for monitoring. Accident victims. My husband was gored by a cow. ICU. (He’s been in ICU around 5 times in his life time, I think.) Anyone with potential life endangering health problems that might be affected by their surgery is going to be placed in ICU for monitoring. And so on.

    • Egogirl

      June 22, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      Right, but those types of ICU stays that are “routine” happen all the time and never put a hospital in danger of running out of room to accept more critical care patients. COVID-19 pushes those numbers to dangerous levels. So reporting ALL ICU beds available/unavailable is a critical figure in determining if Florida is in trouble. To try and slice it and dice it any other way is playing with numbers.

  • Ella

    June 22, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Floridians, gather your brain cells together and DEMAND that your governor a) educate himself as to what an actual ICU does, and b) insist that the recording not change. This man is trying to distance himself from the growing numbers he has caused (by letting your citizens think that the virus is no big deal) in order to save his political hide.

    I’m not American, and am flummoxed by how the United States has mishandled this pandemic, and how easily your citizens have bought into the idea that it’s a hoax. It is beyond belief. Then again, the rest of us wonder how your country thought voting in a geriatric, racist, reality show host was even remotely a sane idea.

    • Karen Johnson

      June 22, 2020 at 7:31 pm

      Agreed! And I am a Floridian.

    • Nina

      June 23, 2020 at 9:30 am

      Hear, hear!!! It’s amazing the blinders on people in FL! I’m a resident and can’t talk to my family here about one thing regarding state, national or world news because I don’t watch their Fox News. They are in a a Trump tribe of their own and it’s endangering us all.

  • Sonja Fitch

    June 22, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Damn damn damn tell the damn truth. We are in a damn pandemic!!!

  • Charles Hammond

    June 22, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    Here we go again.

    If we don’t count ’em, they don’t exist. Or so goes the logic.

    Hmmmm. I wonder who’s lead DeSantis is following . . .

  • BlueHeron

    June 22, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Trump’s horrific lack of response to covid has cost countless lives and will be his legacy. For the history books. No statues or named libraries and schools for him.
    DeSantis has been taught well and the approval he seeks resides in a big white house.
    He too, has blood on his hands. I don’t think he cares. The health of Floridians means nothing. Politics first. Legacy doesn’t come to mind.
    There is no doubt in my mind that he has his eyes on 2024. That’s it. FULL STOP.

  • Leading Edge Boomer

    June 22, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    “ICU” = “Intensive Care Unit”. Simple as that.

  • Pete

    June 22, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    We went from 20 ICU beds to 120 in our hospital. These seem all like routine numbers. Dare I say reassuring for the time being.

    • Ella

      June 22, 2020 at 10:21 pm

      Pete, I’m a bit confused. How does a hospital going from 20 ICU beds to 120 beds offer reassurance to you? Your hospital has increased ICU capacity 6X its original number of beds. While I could see that you might feel it’s okay because there are more beds for the COVID patients, it also indicates that your community’s COVID cases are expected to rise 6X. In your shoes I would be terrified by that possibility. This is not normal. It’s not routine. It’s a pandemic running rampant with the worst possible leadership at the helm. (I’m not American, and am completely bewildered by the state the U.S. finds itself in at the moment.)

  • Nona

    June 22, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Changing the status doesn’t free up the ICU beds or the ICU staff.

    DeSantis is a Failure, Horrible governor and truly despicable person, like his mental mentor in WH who admittedly slowed down the testing. They are killing Americans and destroying US economy, treason

  • Arianna

    June 23, 2020 at 3:32 am

    George Carlin said it best: “Everything in Florida is in the 80s, the average temperature, the average age, and the average IQ.”

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    June 23, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Congrats, FlaPol! “Morning Joe” (MSNBC) picked up on your story this morning, June 23. Keep it up!

  • Amelia N Thomas

    June 24, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Thank you for this article & clarification. Florida is opening regardless of the science.

  • Brendan S

    June 24, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    The Florida Derangement Syndrome is strong in these comments. If you suffer from FLDS and live here, why? Life is too short to hate where you live and those who live around you. So leave. Please, go back to NY and NJ. If you suffer from FLDS and you live outside of the state, whelp as an NPA in Broward, I can guarantee all you do is suppress voter turn out in the Blue Counties.

    You use the gif wishing we’d fall into the ocean, insult us, tell us–the only true 50/50 state–there is no hope to beat Reps here (fun fact, technically we are a Dem state, there are 400k more registered Dems than Reps in FL, you lose because you don’t vote, you snark online instead). Dems will lose this state again because both within and without, you’ve been praying for us to die since March to score points against DeSantis and Trump, and whoa boy are you rubbing your hands now. You’re going to be disappointed yet again, thankfully. But all you will have done is turn 2/3 of voters against you.

    CA is the control state, that it is surging worse than any, despite the longest and most rigid lockdown, and with no slow down ever, defeats the reopening hypothesis. The surges all coincide with outside temp. The 4 states baking, thus hiding inside with AC 24/7–are the 4 surging. HVAC always, always does that. The cold states had the same problem but with the heater, now it is our turn. However, we now know that Standford was right and patients should not have been intubated but treated with steroids. The intibations were to protect staff, not lives and they reduced chance of survival to 10%. People died because of widespread medical malpractice.

    DeSantis is not controlling Miami Dade and Broward–the epicenter–he let us choose, we chose to reopen. Just as we closed before NYC, just after CA, well before the state as a whole. Why did we reopen? So that thousands of Windstorm policies wouldn’t be cancelled from missed premiums or abandonment of premises. Policies that lapse after June 1st and before Nov 1, cannot be renewed. If you don’t know that local and state govt doesn’t care about COVID right now because we’ve got way bigger fish to fry, you’re and idiot who doesn’t know the first thing about FL.

    We have over a million people beneath the 27th parallel that will not be allowed to evacuate this season if necessary, including all of coastal Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe. Go find that tik tok video from Wilton Manor this weekend, basically a drunken street party– almost surely all resistance, blue wave, affluent Broward Dems, who have the luxury to work from home, partyingup maskless, only to scold everyone else the next day. This is why NPAs are about to over take Dems in Miami Sade and Palm Beach. You are as much as bad as Reps.

    Kills me you some how think Gillum would be doing better right now, and I voted for neither of them. Yep, he def seems like a true and wise leader. The reopening shaming is just classism, bunch of financially secure bourgeois wine moms scolding all of the service employees, who had to kick out their pets because the couldn’t afford to feed them, because they had no job. You don’t care about people, you care about boosterism for your team.

    • JoeM63

      June 29, 2020 at 1:58 am

      Nobody wants people to die. I hope steroids show a significant reduction in deaths. people didnt die because of widespread malpractice. It is a new virus with no prior history on how to handle it. Trump and DeSantis have done a terrible job plain and simple. Letting people choose what to do in a pandemic is exactly why you are being overwhelmed. Every place that has C-19 surging is because people chose not to follow recommended safety protocols. In some states, like Florida, Arizona and Texas a big part of it is because of poor leadership ignoring what health experts have been telling them. In California it is despite what their governor has been telling them. It is a poor choice by many people who felt emboldened by a President who himself makes light of what the experts say even though he makes sure everyone coming near him is tested daily and follows proper protocol. They have failed us. Those that chose their “freedom” over our safety have failed us. We need true leadership. Trump clearly cannot lead and neither can DeSantis.

  • Patricia Harbison

    June 25, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    In order to better gauge mortality figures, let’s only include the death certificates of those COVID-19 patients who actually require burial or cremation.

Comments are closed.


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