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'We're in for a really tough December' | Cone Health leaders worry as case numbers, hospitalizations rise

Cone Health set a new record for coronavirus hospitalizations Thursday as health experts wait to see if a post-holiday rise in cases is coming.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Triad health experts worry a post-Thanksgiving rise in coronavirus cases could be coming with cases and hospitalizations already setting records.

Cone Health set a new record for coronavirus hospitalizations Thursday.

161 people are being treated for the virus at Cone's facilities. 30 of those patients are in the ICU.

Cone Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health said it's too soon for those cases to be considered part of a post-Thanksgiving spike.

"I am personally aware of a lot of quarantine that's going into place this week because of people who were in contact with people who turned out to have Covid over Thanksgiving," Dr. Christopher Ohl said.

Ohl is Wake Forest Baptist Health's chief infectious disease expert.

"People were exposed on Thanksgiving, they might, a few of them might be having symptoms over the past several days but most people who need hospitalization day 7 and beyond," Dr. Bruce Swords said.

Swords is Cone Health's Chief Physician Executive.

Swords and Ohl aren't sure we will see such a spike, but Cone Health said the projections don't look good.

"I think we're in for a really tough December," Swords said.

Swords said procedure changes--like limiting emergency room visits and elective surgeries--could come if numbers keep rising.

"I think we're in for a really tough December and if we don't take and implement the strategies that we know work, we'll be in for an even worse January," Swords said.

The strategies Dr. Swords talks about are the mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing he said we should all be familiar with by now.

The first doses of a coronavirus vaccine are on the way but Ohl said the Three W's aren't going anywhere.

"Not for a while, because there will still be enough vaccine that is circulating. So even if you've been vaccinated, you'll still need to do that," Ohl said.

Meanwhile, many people are seeking post-Thanksgiving coronavirus tests.

Cone Health said 560 people were tested at its Green Valley campus Thursday. That's a lower number than sought tests the week before the holiday when more than 900 people were tested on November 23.

Many health experts said getting tested between five and seven days after a possible exposure can give the most accurate results.

Swords recommends only getting tested if you know you were exposed to the virus or if you are showing symptoms.

He said taking a test as a precaution doesn't really work.

"People who want to be tested just for the sake of being tested, it probably doesn't offer any really helpful information," Swords said.

When you get tested depends on a number of factors. 

Dr. Swords says if you have symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible. 

If you were exposed but do not have symptoms, he recommends getting tested seven days after exposure or quarantining for 10 days.

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