Two more county residents have died from COVID-19, the Williams County Health Department reported Thursday.
The Health Department is reporting 914 cases, 63 hospitalizations and eight deaths, but those numbers did not include Friday’s data. Even without Friday’s data, there have been at least 161 new cases in the county in the past week and almost 400 new cases since Nov. 6, which has overwhelmed health department staff, Williams County Health Commissioner Jim Watkins said.
“The volume of cases is so high it’s out of control,” Watkins told The Bryan Times Thursday.
A similar situation appears to be going on at the state level, with the Ohio Department of Health posting a message saying it had technical issues with its COVID-19 dashboard, where it generally posts its daily statistics, and referring users to its main page for COVID statistics.
The ODH’s last update at 2 p.m. Friday reports 335,423 total cases in Ohio, with 23,958 hospitalizations and 5,955 deaths, though the ODA website also includes a note saying “the data is incomplete; thousands of reports are pending review.”
The ODH also is reporting more than 226,000 people are “presumed recovered.” That number is 377 in Williams County.
The dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases around the state this month is being felt at Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers, which this month has seen its daily average number of Emergency Room visits for COVID-19 jump from about two a day to six per day.
CHWC reports it has admitted more COVID inpatients during the first three weeks of November than the entire nine months of the pandemic so far, including 11 COVID inpatients in the past few days. Three of those patients were admitted Friday, according to Chad Tinkel, president and CEO of Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers.
“Basically all those patients are very ill and they will not be discharged any time soon,” Tinkel told The Bryan Times Friday, updating his comments from those he issued in a prepared statement of talking points from Thursday.
Tinkel said the hospital is working to expand its available space from four to 15 beds dedicated to COVID patients.
“We didn’t exceed the need for our four designated COVID unit beds until this month,” Tinkel said late Friday, adding that most of CHWC’s 11 COVID-19 patients are elderly patients from local nursing homes.
“We are having to have these difficult conversations with patients and family members about their prognosis, and in some cases, end of life decisions, including DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders,” Tinkel said.
He noted that CHWC’s staffing resources are being strained, with about 25 direct patient care staff and providers out due to the recent community spread. CHWC is limiting the number of rehab inpatients admitted to Montpelier Hospital In order to transfer some Montpelier staff to CHWC—Bryan to care for the increasing number of COVID inpatients in Bryan.
Tinkel said a majority of the larger area hospitals are also experiencing issues with staffing and available beds, which he said is severely limiting CHWC’s ability to transfer out critically ill patients.
Both the county health department and CHWC are asking the community to help “flatten the curve” by wearing masks in public settings; maintaining six feet of physical distancing; washing hands often and staying home when possible.
“These are challenging times. I’m concerned that with the numbers we’ve seen in the past few weeks, and it may get worse in the coming weeks,” Tinkle said Friday. He emphasized, though, that CHWC is utilizing precautionary measures to safely take care of patients and encouraged anyone who may have symptoms to seek care.
“We’re in this together and we’ll do everything we can to provide comprehensive patient centered healthcare to our community,” he said.