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Local hospital readies for COVID uptick

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

According to the New River Valley Public Health Task Force, as of Monday, Nov. 16, there were 44 COVID-19 positive patients who have been hospitalized and five individuals under investigation in the four counties and one city of the NRV region.

In addition, Virginia’s Department of Health Outbreaks Dashboard shows a total of 11 outbreaks and 262 total cases in the New River Valley. An outbreak is considered to be when two or more confirmed cases have had expose to a sick person.

This represents a significant uptick in hospitalizations and new cases since the beginning of the month. NRV Public Health Task Force reported only 19 hospitalizations and 179 total COVID cases on their Nov. 2 report.

Hospitalizations from COVID have been gradually creeping up since Nov. 6 when 29 were hospitalized. By Veterans Day that number had risen to 36 hospitalizations and now six more have been added to that total.

With the rise in hospitalizations, there have been rumors that area hospitals are dedicating entire floors to make room for COVID patients and that operating rooms have been rededicated to care for these individuals.

“We’ve certainly seen an uptick in COVID cases just like VDH has been reporting,” said Hannah Curtis of Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Radford. “We have a scalable surge model, so we have the capacity to create beds or scale down as needed with COVID in the community, but no major reallocation of space currently going on.”

Will operating rooms be affected?

“We’ve had questions about elective procedures and surgeries and as far as postponing operations because of COVID upticks, the answer is no. We’re still doing regular operations. We’re watching everything closely and monitoring with our peers throughout the footprint, but it’s still manageable.”

It’s important to note that the rate of COVID related deaths have not risen as quickly as the number of new cases. By Nov. 2, 27 individuals had reportedly died as a result of COVID and the latest report says that 32 have died from the malady. In that time, two of those deaths occurred in Pulaski County, two in Montgomery County and one in Radford.

Floyd County, which recorded an eye popping 15 COVID related deaths in total, has seen no additional deaths related to the coronavirus since the beginning of November.

With cases on the rise, local hospitals seem ready to react if the need arises.

“We’re monitoring it closely,” said Curtis. “Unfortunately, while no one wants a pandemic going for as long as it has, it also gives you time to prepare planning surge models, so that health systems throughout the area are in a much better spot than they were in March in terms of preparedness. Eight months into the pandemic, there is fatigue around the messaging, but if there was ever a time to practice masking, hand washing and social distancing, it would be now.”

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