Concern grows with COVID-19 hospitalizations as fall and winter seasons loom

As of Monday, Genesis and Unity Point report a combined 28 ICU COVID patients
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 1:16 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - For Scott County Health Director Amy Thoreson, the battle against COVID for her and her family has always been personal.

“My husband is a healthcare provider and sees patients that are COVID positive and helps in their recovery and that means that he’s being exposed to them on a daily basis,” Thoreson said. “While he’s been vaccinated and our family’s been vaccinated and he wears his PPE, you always worry. And you look at the demands it’s placing on people that are healthcare workers so the pressure is tremendous.”

Local healthcare systems are feeling the pressure as well. As of Monday, Genesis Health System is reporting 13 COVID patients in their ICU and UnityPoint Health is reporting 15 patients.

In their press release, Genesis saidfrom time to time, we have had to limit or postpone, as well as cancel, some elective procedures.”

Genesis also said “The ICU census remains our pressure point. On occasion over the past three weeks, we have had to stabilize and transfer ICU patients to other facilities to receive care.”

Thoreson said the biggest challenge COVID ICU patients present to hospitals is with how long they stay in an ICU compared to others.

“COVID patients tend to stay in the ICU for a long time so that doesn’t mean that somebody can get stable and move out in a day or two which frees up a bed, they stay for quite a few days which means the capacity when it hits that level, stays at that level for longer which makes less availability,” she said.

According to the CDC, while Iowa and Illinois’ regions (regions 7 and 5, respectively) aren’t seeing their highest daily COVID hospitalization rates since the pandemic began, they are seeing some of their highest numbers since January.

“The potential for spread is definitely a little bit higher than we’d like it to be,” Thoreson said.

There’s also concern with increased spread as more indoor activities become more common as the weather begins to cool down.

“Certainly going into the fall then as you see more increased cases, the potential for particularly one of those who may not have received the vaccine at this time, the potential to get sicker and to need that hospitalization is increased,” she said.

There are also questions regarding what other viruses will look like this fall beyond COVID.

“The other thing that we don’t know will happen this year is influenza, there wasn’t a lot last year, there wasn’t a lot in the Southern hemisphere, what will it look like? Will we see more? Will we not see more?” Thoreson said. “There are already some respiratory illnesses in kids that are making them sick and have been in these summer months that are normally winter viruses.”

She continues to remind people to get vaccinated if they can and wear masks.

“We’re just all hoping that things get a little bit better in trying to encourage people to do what they can which is masking and vaccines right now,” Thoreson said.

“We still don’t have a magic pill that can be given to them [COVID patients] and then they’re better.”

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