'Bracing for the worst' in Florida's COVID-19 hot zone

By KELLI KENNEDY and CODY JACKSON Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Hospitals are overflowing with COVID patients in northeast Florida, the hot zone in the state's latest surge.

But the patients rapidly filling wards in Jacksonville are younger than last summer's peak outbreak. And they're getting sick faster.

The caseload is more than double that surge at Baptist Health's hospitals.

They're making do by converting empty spaces, adding more than 100 beds and working overtime to persuade people to get vaccinated.

Florida accounts for 1 in 5 cases nationwide as the highly-contagious delta variant spreads. Baptist's medical director says they're "bracing for the worst."

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