Tuesday, January 18, 2022

COVID-19 hospitalizations down, transmission rate ‘high’

Assistant Managing Editor | December 27, 2021 1:05 AM

The number of COVID-19 patients at Samaritan Hospital has declined in recent weeks, with Wednesday’s total at three, the most recent information available.

One of the three was in the hospital’s intensive care unit, while two were in the medical surgical unit.

Those numbers aren’t too far off the hospital’s average these days.

“Over the past two weeks, we have averaged 4 COVID(+) patients in the hospital,” Gretchen Youngren, Samaritan’s executive director of development and communications, wrote in an email. “We continue to maintain stable staffing ratios and our overall patient census is within our normal range for cold and flu season.”

Staffing has been challenging for Samaritan recently, but Youngren said changes have occurred. She said in late November the hospital had 65 open positions in patient and clinical care, including on-call, full-time and part-time, and hospital staff were recruiting for those.

“Like many healthcare organizations in the state and across the nation, staffing isn’t ideal; however, we have added 26 additional patient care staff since October 1st and continue to receive applications, and host interviews for our open positions,” she wrote. “As has been demonstrated throughout the pandemic, our staff at Samaritan Healthcare continue to dedicate their time and service to all patients, and we are grateful for all they do.”

As far as detecting which variants were in Grant or Adams counties, that is up to the Washington State Department of Health, she said.

“We do not perform that testing here at Samaritan,” she wrote. “The variant testing is actually facilitated by the state health department lab.”

From January through Dec. 22, the most recent information available from the DOH, the delta COVID-19 variant had the highest numbers in Grant and Adams counties, with 664 and 259, respectively. There were no omicron cases in either county. The second-highest case numbers were for alpha, with Grant having 64 and Adams having 34.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker on Sunday reported “high” transmission rates for Grant and Adams counties. A high transmission rate means 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or 10% or more positive Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs), whichever is higher, within the previous week.

There were 111 COVID-19 cases in Grant County within the last seven days as of Dec. 22, with a case rate of about 114 per 100,000 people, which was a 15% decrease, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. There also were about 58% of the county’s residents age 5 and older who were fully vaccinated.

In Adams County, the CDC reported 14 cases within the previous seven days as of Dec. 22, with a case rate of about 70 per 100,000 people, which was a 7% decrease. There also were about 61% of the county’s residents age 5 and older who were fully vaccinated.

However, the CDC’s information was difficult to discern because it provided two different dates for cases, case rate and percentages on its main COVID Data Tracker website. It also did not provide death or testing rates.

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