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Cone Health asks doctors to discuss delaying some procedures due to COVID surge

Cone Health is caring for the most COVID-19 patients since last January. The hospital says most patients are not vaccinated.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — More than 3,000 people are in hospitals across the state with COVID-19, and it’s becoming highly concerning for health officials statewide. State health leaders said the patient count is up by 1,000 from a week ago.

Guilford County Public Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann said Cone Health is “extremely concerned and stretched very thin,” while talking with county leaders about the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“Within their facilities, they’re experiencing an increasing number of people that are being hospitalized with COVID-19,” Vann said.

RELATED: Mask mandate returns in Guilford County

Cone Health reports nearly 200 hospitalized with COVID-19. Vann said that number is only going to increase as modelers and projectors with Cone Health’s data analytics team are currently showing, “dire future numbers as far as hospitalizations are concerned."

Dig Deeper: Check out Cone Health Hospitalization stats 

“So, over the next 14 days, we’re expecting those hospitalizations to continue to rise,” Dr. Vann said while addressing county leaders Tuesday.

As a result of the growing hospitalizations, Cone Health is asking surgeons to discuss delaying some surgeries and procedures with their patients. 

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“We’re seeing cycles in the number of cases a week or two later. We’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations. Then two to three weeks later, we’re starting to see the surge in the number of deaths that are being reported to us,” she said.

Dr. Vann provided a report during the meeting showing the number of COVID-19 cases in the county from May 8, 2020, to the end of December last year.

“The county saw a large increase in COVID cases in the last few weeks of December,” she said.

North Carolina health officials reported a new single-day record for infections on New Year's Day - nearly 20,000 new cases. On Tuesday, more than 10,000 new cases and a near 30% daily positivity rate, meaning nearly one in every three people tested positive for COVID-19.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said it’s worried about patient care and hospital staffing.

RELATED: NC to require boosters for state employees once CDC updates 'fully vaccinated' definition

“We want to make sure our hospitals are available for individuals to get care, whether that’s care for a COVID-19 infection or care for any other reason you would go to the hospital,” NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said.

He’s also concerned about those who need other care at hospitals and the ripple impact it could have with the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“With the case numbers that we’re seeing, being so large, even if a small percentage of those end up in the hospital at the same time, it can create if not for our statewide system, especially regionally, issues in the hospital,” Kinsley said.

Hospitals limiting other procedures to save space

Cone Health asked surgeons to discuss delaying surgeries with patients where a brief delay in surgery is safe and appropriate, according to the hospital. Health leaders said it should lessen the impact on hospital resources increasingly being used to care for COVID-19 patients.

Novant Health said it’s limiting surgeries and procedures Wednesday through Friday at the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center that are same-day (outpatient) or classified as urgent or emergent. They said all non-urgent cases requiring an overnight stay will be rescheduled. This will ensure hospital capacity is maintained for emergencies. All other Novant Health medical centers will resume normal operations or procedures and surgeries. The health system said it’s continuing to monitor the data closely and make daily assessments to resume or pause these types of procedures.  

State leaders said if you're in need of a COVID-19 test not to go to the hospital for a test. You can find a testing facility by visiting the NCDHHS site. You can also find out more about getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

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