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Hospitals urge cooperation to fight COVID-19

From staff reports

The leaders of nine southeast Ohio hospitals and health systems released a joint letter Monday urging residents in Washington, Noble, Athens, Meigs and other counties to get vaccinated if eligible and wear masks to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The letter, whose signers include Memorial Health System President and CEO J. Scott Cantley, said hospitals, emergency departments and urgent care centers in the region are experiencing record numbers and seeing a higher degree of illness than in the past.

“This is taking a toll on our associates,” it said. “We are concerned with what the coming weeks will bring. We want to continue to provide the care our patients need, and when and where they need it.”

Memorial alone reported 56 COVID-positive patients Thursday. As of Monday afternoon, the number had risen to 65, according to Jennifer Offenberger, associate vice president of service excellence.

“What we are experiencing is very real,” the letter said. “It isn’t a political issue; it’s a medical issue.”

Patient data shows most people hospitalized with COVID have not received a COVID vaccine, the letter said.

The letter warns COVID does not discriminate based on age, race or gender and can spread to even generally healthy individuals.

“We do have ways to reduce exposure to COVID and brace against a full-blown infection,” it says. “You can use a mask, and if you are 12 and older, get vaccinated.”

Taking those steps will help “drastically slow the rate of spread” and reduce an individual’s potential exposure to the virus, the letter said.

“At times, we are all asked to put others before ourselves,” it said. “Help us change the trajectory of COVID-19 for our communities by protecting yourself and your loved ones.”

West Virginia hit a record number of COVID patients in intensive care units last week and continued to set new highs for the number on ventilators, causing state officials to warn that health care resources could eventually be overwhelmed. As of Monday’s update from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 852 people were hospitalized statewide because of COVID-19, with 267 in ICUs and 162 on ventilators.

WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center had not provided data on its number of COVID patients and intensive care unit status as of Monday afternoon.

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