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Delta Variant COVID cases increase sharply across Tri-County

 

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

 

As if there hasn’t been enough to worry about in the last two years, coronavirus disease No. 19, more commonly referred to as COVID-19, has reared it ugly head again, this time as another variant of the very contagious virus.

Vice President of Patient Care Services April Dukes said she is very concerned about a rapid increase in cases in the COVID-19 Delta variant in the tri-county area. She produced a bar graph that showed past cases increasing in gentle rolls.

But the graph for August 3, showed the increase as a sharp spike, straight up.

“When you look at the graph on the public health department web site, we saw the first evidence of COVID arriving in Georgia around late February- early March 2020,” she said. Then we had that first surge around July 2020, which was pretty horrendous.

“The cases dropped down a little until the surge that followed. That was not a good situation but we tapered off very nicely and by June 2021, we were kind of coasting almost to a normal state of operations.” and we thought everything was going quite well. There was another surge after the July 4th 2021 holiday, then it seemed to really calm down and we began relaxing the mask and distance rules. But over the past few days, we have seen a sharp, sharp increase in the Delta variant — 6,479 cases in Georgia in one day. That’s about 20 percent away from being the largest cases of all time — 10,000 cases — but the July 4th surge grew gradually but this one just goes almost straight up. That’s the Delta variant. It is very contagious and spreads easily from person to person.”

The statewide rise in cases is reflected in the tri-county area with four cases in one day in Crisp County, seven in Dooly County and two in Wilcox County.

Because of the rise, Dukes said the hospital is increasing safety protocols because this variant is very contagious and spreads very easily from person to person.

““We currently have eleven COVID patients in the hospital — all unvaccinated —and due to this delta variant we decided yesterday that we shift back to some of the past restrictions,” Dukes said. “We are watching this thing every day and adjusting as we go. Our main priorities are the safety of our staff and maintaining our operations. There’s not a hospital in Georgia that’s not on diversion, meaning they are at full capacity. This is not a good situation because you have patients from surrounding counties — Dooly, Wilcox and Turner — coming to our facility when we are already slammed.”

Because of the lethality and speed of the Delta variant, a committee at Crisp Regional Hospital has decided to re-impose some of the mandates that were previously in effect.

“At times, the main entrance will be closed,” Dukes said. “Persons entering the hospital will be subject to temperature checks, must wear a mask, wash their hands often and maintain a six-foot distance.

“One visitor may visit a COVID positive patient for 90 minutes per day and they must wear protective equipment. Visitors to non-COVID patients may have one visitor and they may stay all day or all night. Children, because they can’t be vaccinated, are not allowed to visit. Anyone coming to visit must adhere to our rules.”

Employees are subject to more stringent rules including no exposure to COVID within 14 days and they cannot work unless fever-free for 24 hours.