State Watch

Florida residents asked to limit 911 calls in one county amid COVID-19 surge

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Officials from a Florida county fire department are asking residents who may have less urgent medical needs to consider possible alternatives to calling 911 in light of high intensive care unit bed use.

Orlando Dominguez, the assistant chief of emergency medical services operations for Brevard County Fire Rescue, told NBC News during an interview on Wednesday that the fire department will never deny someone services if they call for emergency services.

However, at the same time he stressed that some hospitals have run out of room to accommodate those going to the emergency department and suggested that those who do not need urgent emergency services find alternative means before heading to the hospital.

“We’re also conveying to the public that if you’ve fallen and might have hurt your knee or you have a cough, things like that, that are not emergent or urgent, they should follow up with their primary care physician or go into a walk-in clinic,” Dominguez told the news outlet. 

NBC News reported that as of the middle of Wednesday, 81 percent of adult ICU beds in Brevard County were filled. Dominguez suggested the current data was not showing the full extent of the problem, saying that hospitals were at overcapacity.  

“I can tell you compared to March or July where we were last year to where we are now, this is a lot worse,” Dominguez said.

About 51 percent of the state has been fully vaccinated, yet the rampant spread of the delta variant among pockets of unvaccinated communities have challenged communities who have tried to manage the virus. 

Florida cases have continued to surge at a worrying pace with the Sunshine State reporting 15,322 new cases on Monday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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