This weekend is the last before the holiday season begins and may be our best opportunity to take a deep breath as we await the next phase of the pandemic.
In Hancock County, new cases of COVID-19 have stabilized at 50 per day, a rate that is 10 times higher than the daily average over the summer. We have experienced more than 400 new cases in our county over the past week, accounting for nearly 20% of all the cases since the beginning of our journey. The number of COVID positive inpatients in our hospital has persisted in the 12 – 17 range for 10 days and the overall census remains near capacity. Other hospitals in the state are in a much worse position with no beds available and ED diversion becoming commonplace.
Given the high rate of growth in new cases, diminishing availability of hospital beds, and the general fatigue within the healthcare community, we look forward to the holidays with equal measures of hope and dread. Our hope is for the peace that often accompanies the season, our dread is for the impact that seasonal gatherings may have on the spread of the disease. Please remind your family, friends, and neighbors of the very real impact an explosive spread of the virus can have on healthcare organizations and ask them to stay home this year. If they must go out, help them understand the importance of avoiding crowds, washing their hands, and above all, wearing their masks properly.
With that said, not all is doom and gloom. This week we received our first allocation of Bamlanivimab, the monoclonal antibody from Lilly, and have successfully completed our first infusions. We are hopeful for regular allotments of the drug and are developing processes to serve as many patients as possible, thus reducing potential COVID-related hospitalizations. We are also deep into planning for widespread coronavirus vaccinations and, as a phase 1A hospital, have been told we are just weeks away from receiving our first shipments from Pfizer and Moderna. While much is yet to be determined, we know health care workers are at the top of the list for vaccination and I am looking forward to being right there at the head of the line, showing my belief in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Additional information on registering for vaccination is coming soon.
As we head into the final stretch of 2020, I could not be more proud of what we have done together this year. Hancock County is safely in the hands of the best healthcare team anywhere – right here at Hancock Health!