COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Increase

posted on Thursday, September 23, 2021 in COVID-19

The ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic continue. Locally the number of COVID-19 tests being performed along with the numbers of positive cases and COVID-related hospitalizations at Spencer Hospital have all increased in recent weeks. However, the availability of testing supplies and access to monoclonal antibody treatment options has decreased.

During Thursday’s hospital board meeting, several statistical trends were shared by hospital leadership showing increases in COVID-19 cases, positivity rate, and hospitalizations.

“Spencer Hospital is managing a new inflection point in the transmission and medical care needs associated with COVID-19,” commented Spencer Hospital president Bill Bumgarner.  “After a period of relatively low activity earlier this summer, key indicators have been in an upward trend in recent weeks.  This has included a significant increase in the number of school-aged children testing positive for COVID-19.”

Bumgarner shared that as of Sept. 22, the positivity rate in Clay County was 11.2%. Through Sept. 23, 285 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Clay County thus far during the month. In August 101 COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Clay County. In July, 15 cases of COVID were confirmed within the county.

Jordan Reed, Vice President of Clinic Operations who oversees laboratory services, added that between the hospital and Avera Medical Group Spencer, the labs have performed more COVID-19 tests in the past three weeks than any other three-week period of the pandemic, with 500 to 600 tests performed weekly.  

Bumgarner stated, “In recent weeks, hospital and clinic testing activity and positive test outcomes have been as high as we’ve seen since the pandemic started in 18 months ago.  As hospital leadership, we’re concerned that inpatient care needs will increase in the weeks ahead and stress resources as occurred for about a one-month period last winter. In August, the hospital was caring for one to three inpatients with COVID-19 daily. Yesterday, 10 inpatients were being treated for COVID.”

On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that 638 patients with COVID-19 diagnoses were inpatients in Iowa hospitals. Of those receiving inpatient care, more than 80 percent of those patients were not fully vaccinated against the virus.

 In Clay County, 46 percent of the total population is vaccinated, compared to 53 percent of all Iowans and 55 percent of the U.S. population. Of those who are eligible to be vaccinated, individuals who are age 12 years or older, 54 percent are fully vaccinated in Clay County, while 64 percent of those age 12 and older across the nation are fully vaccinated.

“It’s recommended that community members increase mitigation actions, such a masking when in close proximity to others while indoors,” Bumgarner said. “National, state and local data trends clearly demonstrate that vaccination is proving to be meaningful to help prevent hospitalization and serious illness.  Anyone who is not vaccinated is encouraged to consider doing so.”

Brenda Tiefenthaler, senior vice president of patient care and operations, added, “We all want this pandemic to end.  Vaccination is the best way to transition our COVID-19 fight from a pandemic event to a manageable communicable disease. But, that will require more people who have delayed vaccination to get it done.   We encourage anyone who may have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to discuss it with their family physician.  Use trusted sources to learn the facts about COVID-19.”