The number of positive COVID cases is spiking again and reported cases in Robertson County have more than doubled since late July.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the number of cases in Robertson County in a 14-day period from Aug. 4-17 averaged 38.8 new cases reported each day. For the 14-day period before that, July 21 through Aug. 3, that daily average was 15.8.
As a result, a majority of mid-state hospitals are either at or nearing capacity. Last week at NorthCrest Medical Center, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID stood at 21 people by mid-week.
On Thursday, NorthCrest CEO Randy Davis said the highest number of COVID cases the medical facility had at one time, even at the highest point in the pandemic last year was 34 patients, adding that this new surge is ramping up quickly.
Davis said the increase in patients needing a fulltime nurse is already stretching staff.
“We started today at 21 patients with about nine on a ventilator,” he said. “We are a 109-bed hospital but from a medical standpoint, the intensity of the care (for COVID patients) is intensively higher.
“We actually have 12 ICU patients but only eight beds, and I still have heart attacks, strokes, and seizures coming in.”
Davis said the facility is handling the overflow by putting those additional critical patients in the ER.
“They still have a nurse and are in a controlled medical setting being cared for, just as if they were in ICU,” he said.
Davis also said as of Monday, Aug. 23, all elective surgeries requiring an overnight stay are canceled.
Unvaccinated being hit hardest
Like most parts across the country – the majority of local COVID patients requiring hospitalization are those individuals who have not been vaccinated.
“Yesterday — 100 percent of the patients hospitalized (with COVID) were unvaccinated,” Davis said. “The number of unvaccinated being impacted is significant.”
Davis said that with many of the older population taking the vaccine, the age range of COVID patients being seen now has also shifted, he said.
“Because this is hitting the unvaccinated – what we are seeing is patients in the 20 to 45 age range, but on average — they are in their 40’s,” Davis said. “This round of surge is much, much younger.”
As of Thursday, Aug. 19, the state health department showed that 43.76 percent of residents in Robertson County had received at least one vaccination. The number of residents receiving two doses was at 37.5 percent of the population.
For those residents still undecided as far as taking the vaccine, Davis said another variant wave is on the way.
“Lambda is the new variant and is already in Texas and they are starting to see it spread,” he said.
Davis said other protocols can also help residents stay safer from the virus.
“Wear masks, socially distance, and limit the number of people that are all getting together,” he said. “A large number of the people that got it, they didn’t go to a party. “They got it at sporting events – being with family — things that are challenging for families not to do.”
In a press conference on Aug. 16, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said that August was already the worst month for COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
Piercey urged those who don’t have a true medical emergency to stay away from hospital emergency rooms.
Local schools are also seeing an uptick in positive Covid cases.
In Robertson County Schools, from Aug. 9-13, 60 positive cases were identified. Of those 51 were students; the rest were staff. That number was up significantly from the previous week case count of 16 cases.
Like other professionals, retired physician and State Rep. Sabi ‘Doc’ Kumar also said getting vaccinated is imperative to keeping everyone safer.
“When we were faced with the COVID Pandemic over a year and half ago, we had little knowledge about the virus and we had no preparation to face the challenge,” Kumar said. “Even the experts that we were depending on to help us had no experience and had never seen such a pandemic before.
“With the work and efforts of our healthcare profession, fortunately now we have many tools to fight the COVID virus. I am grateful for these medical advances and especially the vaccines that offer great protection from this serious illness. They are safe.”