COVID-19 vaccinations at the Floyd County Health Department

The sign-in line for vaccinations stretched down the hallway at the Floyd County Health Department on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.

The number of people in the hospital locally with COVID-19 is continuing to increase as record numbers of new infections are reported.

An issue that has resurfaced from the first days of the pandemic is if, during a surge, hospitals will have the capacity to treat the influx of very ill patients.

Currently in the state’s regional coordinating hospitals Region C, which includes Floyd County, 80% of the hospital beds overall are spoken for — with 92% of ICU beds in use and just under 70% of emergency department beds full.

Another factor stemming from serious cases of covid is the availability of adult ventilators. According to the Georgia Geospatial Data Hub, only 18.8% of the regions adult ventilators are in use.

There’s been a debate over whether the highly virulent omicron variant is, overall, less deadly than other variants. Some information from other countries, such as South Africa, that have seen the variant spike and decline points to that potential.

However, Department of Public Health Northwest District Director Dr. Gary Voccio said only time will tell.

The pattern of the spikes in virus cases generally takes two or more weeks to come to fruition. First there’s the surge, then hospitalizations rise a few weeks later and then, following that same pattern, deaths. We’ve only just entered the hospitalization stage of the surge.

Another question is how many patients in our region and state hospitals are covid patients.

The hospitals in Region C are reporting that 18.3% of their 1,122 patients have COVID-19. Over half of those covid patients are being treated in Floyd County hospitals. As of Tuesday, there were 139 covid patients being treated at Floyd Medical Center and AdventHealth Redmond, according to Floyd County Emergency Management Agency reports. That number has increased by 11 since Monday.

At least percentagewise, it appears that Floyd County and Region C are better off than nearby portions of the state.

In Region A, which covers much of extreme northern Georgia including Dalton, close to 30% of that region’s 390 hospitalized patients have covid.

Region N — which includes Acworth, Canton, Kennesaw, Marietta and Douglasville — reports that 44.2% of its 1,344 patients have covid. Even Region I, which covers the area from LaGrange to Columbus, is reporting its covid patient census at 25.9%.

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