By Nathan Ham
Positive case numbers in Watauga County have dropped in over the last three weeks, however, hospitalizations have remained steady at Watauga Medical Center, particularly among unvaccinated patients.
According to Rob Hudspeth with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, there are currently 13 patients hospitalized from COVID-19 complications and 11 of the 13 are unvaccinated. The number was at 20 roughly two weeks ago and dropped to 15 at the end of last week, however, two patients died from COVID-19 complications on Sunday.
Hudspeth said since last August, 70 people at Watauga Medical Center have died from COVID-19 and 64 of them were unvaccinated.
“We are continuing to see COVID-19 cases. The workforce here is stressed. Over the last year, out of our 1,500 employees, 500 of them have turned over so we have replaced 500 positions in the last year. The healthcare workforce here locally is fatigued,” Hudspeth said. “Replacing healthcare workers is incredibly difficult because we’re in the same situation as a lot of healthcare systems across the state and country are.”
Age groups for the hospitalized patients vary, but it is no longer a virus that is just attacking older individuals. Unvaccinated individuals continue to be at the greatest risk of hospitalization. Watauga County has administered 22,006 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“COVID doesn’t seem to be on everyone’s mind like it once was, but it’s still here, we’re still living with it every day,” Hudspeth said.
According to the latest update from AppHealthCare on Monday afternoon, there are currently 70 active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County, 36 in Ashe County and nine in Alleghany County. There are 75 people in quarantine in Watauga County, 120 in quarantine in Ashe County and 18 in quarantine in Alleghany County.