As of Aug. 18, there were 2,930 COVID-positive hospitalizations in North Carolina. This is up from 623 just one month ago—a 370 percent increase. In addition, Aug. 17 had the highest COVID-related ED visits across the state since the pandemic started in early 2020.
We continue to see a similarly-troubling trend in our region, with hospitalizations in the Vidant Health system rising from 34 on July 17 to more than 123 on Aug. 17. The 29 counties Vidant serves are currently the highest in the state for the seven-day moving average for COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“We were in a pretty good place,” Vidant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Niti Armistead said. “The transmission had slowed down, more and more people were getting vaccinated and protected, hospitalization days started to really come down, number of cases started to come down and many of us thought we were just in the last leg of this marathon. What changed was the vaccination rates just hit a wall.”
The data continues to show that the vaccines are effective at lessening the severity and impact of this virus.
On Aug. 16, 91 percent of those hospitalized in a Vidant hospital were not vaccinated. Of those in the Vidant system on Aug. 15, 36 COVID-positive patients were in the ICU with 22 on ventilators. Only one of those patients was fully vaccinated. Vidant has had no patients hospitalized due to reactions from the vaccine. The vaccine is available to everyone age 12 and older and appointments can be found at VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Safety, as of Aug. 20, 64 percent of North Carolinians 18 or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 59 percent are fully vaccinated. For eastern North Carolina, those numbers drop to 56 percent with at least one dose and 51 percent fully vaccinated.
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Chief of Adult Medical Services at Vidant Medical Center (VMC) Dr. Paul Bolin said the demographics of those coming to the hospital with COVID-19 are skewing younger than at any other time during the pandemic. Bolin, who also serves as the chair of the department of medicine at Brody School of Medicine, compared getting the vaccine to wearing a seatbelt in a car and said your chances of surviving COVID with the vaccine are 25 fold better than without.
“I think the most important thing to understand is this,” Dr. Bolin said. “There have been a very small number of complications from the vaccine. That is a one-time event that occurs after the vaccination. Your risk of dying from COVID if you’re not vaccinated continues day after day after day after day until this pandemic is over.”
VMC President and Vidant COO Brian Floyd hosted a press conference recently to discuss the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, especially as we experience another surge in cases and hospitalizations.
“Take care of your loved ones, take care of your community and help us take care of this team that’s been here for the public for the last year and a half looking out for their interests,” Floyd said. “It’s a personal choice we make on a mask or vaccine or whatever, but it is a public impact. You are making that choice on behalf of more than you – you’re making it on behalf of people.”
Floyd reiterated messages that have been important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 since the very beginning of community spread: