Delta variant ‘faster like a cheetah’: Florida hospital lets NewsNation tour COVID-19 unit

Coronavirus

HIALEAH, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Every single ICU room inside Larkin Hospital, northwest of Miami, is full. Dr. Wallace Thomas said many of the patients are young, with underlying conditions like being overweight.

“We still have no guarantee that if someone comes to the ICU, they are going to leave the ICU,” Thomas told NewsNation.

Many of the patients are literally gasping for air; their chests heave up and down.

“[One] gentleman also contracted COVID, developed respiratory failure and became very lethargic,” Thomas said. “He has been intubated for weeks.”

Thomas worked in this ICU during the first wave of the pandemic. This time, he says, it’s much worse.

“It is more aggressive,” Thomas said of the delta variant. “It’s faster like a cheetah. People 50 years old come in here and in two or three days they die.”

Most of the patients are on ventilators. The few who are not are having a very hard time breathing. The worst of this surge may still be ahead.

“I think things are getting worse,” critical care doctor Maritza Mendez said. “Things are getting worse.”

New medicines and monoclonal antibody treatments have helped more of the patients survive than did last year. But, even if they leave the ICU, it’s just the beginning of a long recovery.

“They are weak,” Mendez said. “They need help walking, rehabilitation and physical therapy. It takes them a while.”

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