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Florida hospitals seeing younger patients admitted with COVID-19 compared to pandemic's start

The delta variant is the source of a fast-rising surge as COVID spreads at an alarming rate.

TAMPA, Fla — Florida is now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic as cases surge in the state and now hospitals are seeing more people hospitalized.

"We're seeing more COVID than we did this time last year. We're seeing more COVID by percentages in our emergency room," AdventHealth Tampa's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Ross said.

Doctors across the state say nearly every single one of the people trying to fight off the virus in the hospital didn't get a COVID-19 vaccine, and that's a problem when a highly contagious variant is spreading.

"We knew that if people didn't get this vaccine, that we were going to have a problem. Instead of people in their 70s, like we were seeing a year ago, our hospital now has people in their 40s," said Dr. Jason Wilson, Tampa General Hospital's Emergency Department Director.

The delta variant is the source of a fast-rising surge as COVID spreads at an alarming rate.

"It looks like the infectious nature of this is that the person infected with COVID can have can infect eight to nine people. So more people are becoming infected, because it is so much better at spreading," Ross said.

It's putting those without the shot in the hospital and it now takes someone who's positive at least five more days to shed the virus. 

"The median number of days that people are shedding enough virus to contaminate somebody else is now 18 days instead of 13 days," Dr. Aileen Marty with Florida International University said.

That's another reason hospitals are seeing more patients, but they aren't overwhelmed yet. Baycare's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nishant Anand says vaccinations could prevent a bigger surge.

"When you see people that can be helped, unfortunately, passing away on ventilators wishing they had been vaccinated or wishing that they had taken more precautions, it's heart-wrenching," Dr. Anand said.

Doctors say the shot is the best way to boost your protection and stay out of the hospital.

RELATED: CDC document warns delta variant appears to be as contagious as chickenpox

RELATED: 3 doctors break down delta variants' threat in Florida

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