Late this week the world, and the U.S., surpassed yet another grim milestone in our journey through COVID-19. Globally, more than 800,000 daily new cases of coronavirus infection were identified on both Thursday and Friday. In the U.S., we experienced more than 300,000 new cases on Friday alone. Daily deaths now hover at 4,000 in the U.S. and nearly 15,000 worldwide. Locally, Hancock County experienced a single-day-record for new cases this week and the downward trend of cases we had experienced at the end of the year appears to be reversing, as evidenced by the return of our county to “red” status on the statewide dashboard.
While this is all very concerning, there are some hopeful figures as well. Inpatient COVID census has plateaued at a lower level than mid-December, freeing up beds for other patients in need. Positivity rates at our testing sites have returned to pre-holiday levels. We are nearing 400 patients who have received monoclonal antibody infusions in our infusion center. More than 3,000 individuals have received their initial dose of the vaccine at the hospital and we began the second round of vaccinations a few days ago. Finally, the county health department is beginning to receive vaccines for outreach to vulnerable populations and CVS is beginning to contact long-term care facilities as well.
So where does this leave us? Now, more than ever, the light is clearly at the end of the tunnel. By the end of January, a few thousand people will have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 in our county with hundreds more joining them every week as we move forward. Even with that great progress, it will take many months to reach everyone in Hancock County and create herd immunity locally. With this in mind, it is even more important not to let our guard down and to continue Washing our hands, Wearing our masks, and Watching our distance. I would hate for any of us to experience tragedy when we are so very close to the end.
Let me end by thanking each and every person who has contributed to the effort to wipe out COVID-19 in our community. If you are staffing the infusion center, the vaccination clinic, or the testing sites – you are amazing! If you are treating patients in the hospital or off-site – you are my heroes! If you are billing, coding, cleaning, cooking, fixing buildings and equipment, or doing administrative work like me – thank you! But, as important as all these activities are, they pale in comparison to the simple act of getting the vaccine, because ending the pandemic will require each of us doing just that. If you have already done it – fantastic! If you are still thinking about it, please look at the information on our website (https://coronavirus.hancockregionalhospital.org/) to aid in your decision making and consider joining the folks that are ending the pandemic, one raised shirt sleeve at a time!