Florida Keys hospitals report 28 total COVID patients as of Friday, Jan. 14. CONTRIBUTED

By Mandy Miles and Jim McCarthy

As the highly contagious Omicron variant makes positive COVID tests the rule rather than the exception, experts point to hospitalizations rather than case counts as the most reliable measure of the pandemic’s threat in a community.

The Keys Weekly compiled those numbers from Florida Keys hospitals.

As of Friday morning, Lower Keys Medical Center had 16 patients with COVID. Two are in the intensive care unit and one is receiving ventilator care, LKMC spokeswoman Lynn Corbett-Winn said. 

“We are in yellow status, which denotes a deviation from our normal operations for facilitation of patient transfers to higher levels of care outside of our community,” Lower Keys Medical Center CEO David Clay added. “We have been able to care for our current surge. We have sufficient bed capacity and have the ability to flex up and down with our COVID census. We don’t designate [a specific number of] beds for COVID because we use industry-standard isolation protocol with COVID patients. The hospital continues to perform elective procedures to take care of our community.”

On Friday afternoon in the Upper Keys, Mariners Hospital reported 12 COVID patients in-house. CEO Drew Grossman said they’ve been watching it closely since the New Year. 

“And we will continue to do so,” he said. “Staff is working really hard and we can all just pray this comes to an end someday.”

Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon typically transports its COVID patients to Mariners, and as of Friday had no COVID-related admissions.

For those still monitoring case counts, the City of Key West is conducting extensive testing in partnership with Keys AHEC (Area Health Education Center). From Dec. 30 to Jan. 12, AHEC conducted 1,918 tests and reported 598 positives, or a 32% positivity rate, City Manager Patti McLauchlin said.