In an attempt to help keep people who are infected with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms out of hospitals, Floyd Medical Center began introducing a new antibody therapy on Tuesday.

The antibody, bamlanivimab, is designed to halt the ability of the virus to replicate inside the body. Preliminary results suggest the therapy may cut hospitalization rates and emergency room visits for some patients.

Across the state, hospitals are reporting a stark rise in the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care. As of Tuesday, there were 79 COVID-19 positive patients being treated at FMC and Redmond Regional Medical Center.

“This can save lives,” said Dr. Ken Jones, FMC’s executive vice president and chief medical officer, in a statement. “We received 40 doses of bamlanivimab to use at this point and immediately began identifying patients to benefit from the medication.”

The treatment is in an experimental stage and the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization earlier this month. Those who may benefit from the intravenous infusions will be referred by Floyd Primary Care or Floyd Urgent Care providers.

Schools struggle with spread

As the Thanksgiving holiday break approaches, local school systems are hoping they’ll see some relief from a high number of COVID-19 infections.

The real issue for the systems is keeping the staff they need to run the schools.

Floyd County Schools reported 648 students and staff members quarantined as of Tuesday, with eight new positive cases and 109 new close contacts quarantined.

“We’re on break through the 30th,” said FCS Superintendent Glenn White. “Our numbers are up and our goal is to use the vacation to reset.”

The county school system, which has 18 facilities, won’t shut down systemwide if there is a spike in cases in a particular school, White said. If needed, they’ll shut down the affected school for a time and continue as normal at the other schools.

Rome City Schools, which has nine facilities, has just recently come off a two week shut down after COVID-19 quarantines created an issue staffing schools.

The city, which breaks down its numbers by students and staff, last reported its numbers on Monday. It had 278 students in quarantine as well as 47 staff members. Of those, there were six new positive COVID-19 cases and 66 new quarantines.

“Right now it’s not ideal, but for the most part we’ve been able to cover with what we have,” RCS Superintendent Lou Byars said. “Knowing we have a break next week, we’re keeping an eye on how things are going.”

Confirmed cases in schools across the state have shown an increase along all age ranges, according to Department of Public Health numbers released Tuesday.

Floyd County Jail closes offices

Areas at the jail normally open to the public will remain closed until further notice after a rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in the area and new infections at the jail.

“All fingerprint and background check services will be suspended during this time as well,” Sgt. Anthony Cromer wrote. “All registered sex offenders that need to fill out their registration packet or change their address should report to the booking lobby in the back of the jail to fill out the appropriate paperwork.”

Cases had steadily declined prior to this week, Sheriff Tim Burkhalter said, but that changed.

Starting the week with only two COVID-19 positive jail inmates, Burkhalter said they’re now up to three staff members and four inmates who have tested positive. There are an additional 20 inmates in quarantine at the jail.

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