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The Northeast Georgia Health System has updated its COVID-19 data reporting to include more information about hospital capacity, case positivity rates and patient demographics, the system said in a news release.
“As we participate in conference calls and discussions with organizations, government agencies, elected officials, patients and visitors – we always hear common questions about the positive rate of the tests our teams are performing, whether our hospitals are full and which populations are being affected the most,” Carol Burrell, CEO of the health system, said in a statement.
The page, which is updated every day by 3 p.m., shows a seven-day rolling average of the COVID-19 tests NGHS has provided that have come back positive, along with the state’s case positivity rate and another line representing 5%, the rate that the World Health Organization advises a community should be at or under before full reopening. The health system’s seven-day average on Monday, Aug. 17, was 18.69%, while Georgia’s rate was 11.82%.
“The chart shows the percent positive rate in our community is still well above the state’s rolling average and three times greater than the 5% mark – which is where we would like to see it,” Dr. Supriya Mannepalli, Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s medical director of infectious disease medicine, said in a statement. “It’s proof that we have a long way to go in this region, especially as we head into a fall filled with uncertainty.”
Another chart on the updated page shows how many beds are currently filled and available across the system’s four hospitals, as well as how many of those beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients or patients awaiting test results. On Monday, NGHS had 638 beds occupied, with 134 COVID-19 positives and 90 patients awaiting test results.
“The chart shows we have been very close to running out of beds since mid-July, when COVID volumes increased sharply,” Dr. John Delzell, one of NGHS’ COVID-19 incident commanders, said in a statement. “It seems very likely that relaxed social distancing and large gatherings around the Fourth of July weekend drove the increase in cases. We should all keep that in mind as schools reopen and the Labor Day weekend approaches. We all need to make responsible decisions for our community’s health.”
The largest percentage of patients by race has been white, at 56.8%, while the second largest group was “other,” at 19.2%. The data has separate charts for race and ethnicity, with patients of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin identified in the chart looking at ethnicity. According to the page, 2,949 patients have identified as Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, compared to 8,371 who have not.
The age group with the highest number of positive cases as of Monday was the 18-29 age group at 2,887 cases. Patients aged 50-59 and 80 or older were most likely to be hospitalized, with 260 hospitalizations listed under each of those age groups. The age group with the highest number of deaths was people 80 or older, and 82 people in that age group had died.
“This data clearly shows the virus does not discriminate, and it’s not just a problem for any one group in our community,” Dr. Antonio Rios, chief physician executive for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group and a member of the state’s Hall County COVID-19 Task Force, said in a statement. “It’s a shame that conversations and simple actions to protect each other have become so politicized. We are all facing this pandemic together, and it will take everyone working together to overcome it.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, NGHS has discharged 1,789 COVID-19 patients from its facilities, and 225 had died as of Monday.
Dr. Clifton Hastings, chief of medical staff for NGMC, said people should continue to take precautions to prevent spread of the virus.
“All it would take is one more big increase in COVID cases to force us to make the difficult decision to stop providing elective surgeries and other important services to free up resources or risk being overrun,” Hastings said in a statement. “That’s why it’s vital for people to continue following the 3Ws – wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands – to help limit the spread of the virus.”