COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee hospital is suspending all elective procedures requiring an overnight stay due to a surge in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, The Daily Herald reported.
As of Friday evening, Columbia’s Maury Regional Medical Center was treating 50 COVID-19 inpatients, 20 of whom were in the medical center’s 26-bed intensive care unit. In response, the hospital is suspending elective surgical procedures that require an overnight stay for two weeks, beginning on Monday, it announced on Friday.
“The time has long passed for our community to take this virus seriously,” said Alan Watson, CEO of Maury Regional Health said in a Friday statement. “We are seeing the impact of our community letting down their guard, and we must make every effort to mitigate the spread of this virus so that it does not further tax health care providers across Middle Tennessee and the entire state.”
On Thursday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported that statewide hospitalizations had reached a new record of 1,300 patients with COVID-19 and had an ICU bed availability of just 11%. Nationwide, more than 41,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a 40% increase in the past month.
Over the past two weeks, Maury County has seen 480 new cases of the virus, according to state data. In the two weeks preceding that period, the county reported 355 new cases. On Monday, Oct. 19, the county saw its largest spike in cases yet, with a total of 98 new cases of the virus identified. As of Friday, Maury County reported a total of 368 active cases of the virus.
“We have consistently seen COVID-19 numbers spike following holidays and the latest climb follows recent fall breaks in our region,” Watson said. “We implore all Tennesseans to protect yourself and others by masking, social distancing and hand washing.”
Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said the medical center lost another patient to the virus on Friday, brining the total number of COVID-related deaths at the hospital to 47.
Martin Chaney, Maury Regional’s chief medical officer, said small home gatherings have become the emerging threat through which the disease is being spread in the six-county region the medical center covers.
“In our homes, we all let our guard down,” Chaney said. “You think it is safe to not socially distance, and you take your masks off. That is spreading the disease very rapidly.”
He said Maury Regional has consistently seen a surge in cases about two weeks after each major holiday.
“It is so predictable now,” Chaney said. “When families travel and get together for holidays, it is a high-risk time for spreading the virus.”
Tennessee recorded 2,574 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday and 24 new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 3,100.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.
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