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Adult ICU capacity dips to 3% in Hillsborough County

The effects of spiking COVID-19 cases are stressing Hillsborough hospitals.

Hillsborough County might be facing a COVID-19 health care crisis as adult intensive care unity capacity plummeted Monday to just 3%, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Only 12 of the county’s 377 adult ICU beds are available. That number has fluctuated between 5-10% over the past couple weeks as those confirmed positive with the virus face lagging health outcomes.

The dip in ICU capacity comes as another 22 patients were hospitalized Monday, according to Florida Department of Health data released Tuesday.

Capacity also dipped in neighboring Pinellas County, though capacity there has not gotten as low as in Hillsborough. Pinellas ICU capacity dropped to 10% Monday with 29 of 258 adult ICU beds available.

An additional 26 people were confirmed hospitalized Monday.

Hospital check-ins are a preceding indicator for deaths. Deaths tend to follow spikes in new hospitalizations sometimes weeks later.

Both counties continue to see sporadic spikes in new deaths reported. Hillsborough County confirmed 21 deaths Monday, Pinellas 18. The day deaths are reported is not necessarily the day the patent actually died.

Still, both deaths and hospitalizations are lagging indicators behind overall new cases, which have been trending downward in recent weeks, though still higher than the initial COVID-19 spike in April. That suggests hospitals may be able to weather the influx as new cases stabilize in the region and state.

Hillsborough County tallied 348 new cases from Monday morning to Tuesday morning, the exact same total as the day prior. However, the rate of positive tests in the county went up from 8.8% Sunday to 9.6% Monday. Tests were returned from 3,341 patients Monday, down more than 500 from the day prior.

Testing sites were closed in Hillsborough County over the weekend as a precaution for then-Hurricane Isaias. Those closures may already be reflected in the dip in new test results and will likely affect testing rates for several days because results often take that long to be returned.

Pinellas County tallied 181 new cases in Tuesday’s report, 69 more than Monday. Testing was also down, however, with 2,052 results returned Monday, down nearly 700 from the day prior and about half of those returned two weeks ago. Meanwhile, positivity rates creeped back up again to 7.8% Monday from 4.4% Sunday.

Though the rate ticked up, Pinellas County’s positive rate has been less than 10% for well over two weeks.

Hillsborough County’s rate has been less than 10% for six days, though it’s teetered dangerously close to that threshold on almost all of those days, at 9.9% Thursday-Saturday and 9.5% on Friday.

Hillsborough County has now tallied 30,798 cases since the pandemic began. Pinellas has confirmed 17,047 cases.

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Editor’s note on methodology: The Florida Department of Health releases new data every morning around 10:45 a.m. The total number reported in those daily reports include the previous day’s totals as well as the most up to date data as of about 9:30 a.m.

Florida Politics uses the report-over-report increase to document the number of new cases each day because it represents the most up-to-date data available. Some of the more specific data, including positivity rates and demographics, considers a different data set that includes only cases reported the previous day.

This is important to note because the DOH report lists different daily totals than our methodology to show day-over-day trends. Their numbers do not include non-residents who tested positive in the state and they only include single-day data, therefore some data in the DOH report may appear lower than what we report.

Our methodology was established based on careful consideration among our editorial staff to capture both the most recent and accurate trends.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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