AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Health experts report an increase in hospitalizations across the country. Here in the CSRA, Georgia’s Department of Public Health shows more than 15,000 in a medical bed while 73 percent of South Carolina’s beds are are occupied in the Midlands.
COVID numbers continue to rise since Memorial Day, when everything opened up, according to local doctors. Those positive numbers going up mean area hospitals are seeing more people in a bed, including ICU.
“I’m having minimal symptoms, but did test positive yesterday. I’m isolating at home and will continue to do so,” said the head of Augusta University Health Systems Dr. Phillip Coule opening up now about his positive COVID-19 test.
He told NewsChannel 6 he’s being transparent to let others know the virus does not discriminate.
“Early on in the disease, whites were more likely to be tested for the disease. But African Americans and Blacks were more likely to test positive. We’re seeing that gap change, and now we’re seeing 18 – 30 year olds and more whites that are testing positive for the virus,” he said.
Numbers for all are steadily rising. And not everyone concludes their experience with mild symptoms like Dr. Coule. Some are more critical. Augusta University reports it is now at its highest census of patients in house at 70 people battling COVID in a bed. While it’s the most reported during the pandemic, there is a 430 bed capacity. And Dr. Coule said there is a plan if numbers keep rising.
“The next step would be looking at what we could do to get some of those patients out of the hospital. We’re doing some creative things like patients that might be on the edge of whether or not they would require admission to the hospital and they’re being seen in our emergency department, we’re sending those patients home to do telemedicine visits,” Dr. Coule explaind.
University Hospital reports that of its more than 500 bed capacity, 96 are occupied by COVID patients. 28 beds are reserved for ICU and these numbers change. The hospital also reports of those 500 plus beds available, not all can be COVID beds due to not being in a negative air pressure environment.
At Doctors Hospital, Chief Medical Officer John Farr reports that 270 medical or surgical beds are in house and 34 of them have COVID patients, a number nearly five times more than normal.
Dr. Farr said it is, “Somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 to 8 on a daily basis.”
There are three tools Dr. Farr said will help decrease COVID.
“Number one is washing your hands. Number two is being socially distant from people, whenever possible. And number three is wearing a mask,” he said.
“If we were very diligent with mask wearing then we could make an impact on this disease,” Dr. Coule stressed. “We still have people refusing to wear a mask, which I don’t understand”
Dr. Coule added the patient to provider transmission rate is relatively low, so the infection is happening in the community. He added the way to combat COVID is to simply wash your hands, wear a mask and socially distance yourself.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps