On Friday, July 24, Chairman John Daniell participated in a conference call with area healthcare providers and hospitals regarding COVID-19. As cases continue to rise, it is important that everyone helps to protect our community by remaining vigilant with social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands. Below is a joint statement that was issued following the call:
This afternoon, we held another conference call update with Piedmont Athens Regional and St. Mary’s, the Department of Public Health and other healthcare providers and want to share the latest information with the community.
We are seeing continued increases in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations in our area. As we heard in our last update, we’re seeing more community-spread related hospitalizations - whereas a few weeks ago, we were seeing more nursing home related hospitalizations. The age of in-house patients has decreased, as well.
However, our healthcare providers remain in a stable position and are able to care for our community. Both hospitals are able to expand ICU bed capacity as needed. Our hospitals have contingency plans in place should they need to be implemented, but to date, they have not had capacity issues. Diversion status does not mean a hospital is at capacity - it is a communication tool with EMS. Our hospitals don’t turn away individuals in our community - even if they are on diversion. They are coordinating with each other and within their systems and remain ready to provide care.
It’s also important to know that the hospitals remain able to care for non-COVID patients. We’re now seeing some effects of individuals waiting months to take care of other medical issues, and it’s important that our community know our healthcare providers continue to be able to provide quality services.
As we all learn more information about COVID-19, physicians are able to treat COVID-19 patients more effectively. Fewer patients are ultimately ending up in ICU or requiring ventilators. While supplies remain in a good position, testing turnaround time continues to be a significant issue, particularly among commercial labs.
We hope you will join us in helping calm any panic and reassuring the community that our healthcare providers remain strong. Social distance, wear a mask, wash hands - that’s how we’ll turn our numbers back in the right direction. We need to be smart and follow these guidelines.
As always, we remain grateful to our healthcare heroes for their continued work on the front lines!
Mayor Kelly Girtz
Mayor Dodd Ferrelle
Chairman John Daniell
Senator Bill Cowsert
Senator Frank Ginn
Representative Spencer Frye
Representative Houston Gaines
Representative Marcus Wiedower