STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) — COVID-19 cases have been skyrocketing in Bulloch County in the past three weeks with nearly 1,500 positive cases and more hospitalizations than during the height of the pandemic last year. Up to a dozen people have died in the recent surge.
“We’re currently treating 67 patients today in our hospital and unfortunately, 20 of them are requiring ventilators, ” said Stephen Pennington, the CEO of East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
“Patients seem to be a little younger and they seem to be getting sicker quicker. The death rate with this surge is much higher than anything we’ve seen previously.”
Pennington said the Delta variant is affecting people’s lungs and forcing longer hospitalizations.
This week, medical facility staff organized a prayer service for themselves but also for community members.
“It was just to encourage everybody and say you know, we’re all in this together,” Pennington said.
Pennington told us that about 95 percent of their current COVID patients are un-vaccinated. He also says they have some staff shortages and are using hospital personnel from others areas to help out in areas where they can.
“And we’ve requested ten more ventilators and they’ve been delivered and several of them are in use,” said Pennington. “It’s good to have additional equipment but you know, the challenge really comes more in the staff to support them.”
He also said that the medical center is filling its oxygen tank (used facility wide) twice a week now when it used to be once every three weeks.
Pennington says staff is resilient and that the community has reached out with support. But he also acknowledges that people are tired and were “hoping that things were quieting down until the recent surge in cases began.”
Pennington says it’s about serving patients, but he also says that the Delta Variant is making people very sick, that it’s scary when you can’t breathe and he hopes people will ‘keep that in mind when considering whether to get vaccinated.’