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Augusta Health inpatient census drops as community COVID-19 cases fall

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - As community COVID-19 cases slowly fall, Augusta Health says their COVID-19 inpatient census is falling, too.

However, they say they’re not out of the woods yet.

Augusta Health’s Population Health Chief Dr. Clint Merritt says things are less cramped in the hospital.

“We have 45 patients in the hospital today. That’s better than two weeks ago, where we were 65-70 patients,” Merritt said.

Still, he says it’s hard to see that number when, in June, there were usually only one or two patients.

“We had a few days with zero,” Merritt said.

However, he says they don’t just look at how many people are hospitalized with COVID-19, but also the positivity rate, which refers to the percentage of people who test positive out of all tests administered.

Merritt says on Wednesday, Oct. 13, that rate is at 21%. Comparatively, he said the positivity rate was 5% in June.

“Now’s the time to say, we do have a lot of COVID, we know if we put off some of those social events when COVID comes back down again where we can do it more safely. Now is the time to be making those decisions as well, and they’re hard,” Merritt said.

Merritt says seeing cases go down in the community is a good sign, but adds it’s not over yet.

“Hoping that we’ll see in the next few weeks that we are coming back down to a number that is easier for us to handle as a health system and that reflects that our community is doing better with COVID,” Merritt said.

With the holiday season approaching, many worry there will be another spike after family gatherings. However, Merritt said the surges may be timed right, so there might not be a spike like the one last year.

“Our hope is the space to the next [surge is] longer, and as the state and our community rises in vaccine protection and herd immunity, that the next wave won’t be so severe,” Merritt said.

For more on cases in the area, along with projection models, visit VDH’s website.

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