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Bay County COVID cases double in a week

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In Bay County for the week of July 16 through the 22, there were 1,007 cases of COVID-19. That is twice as many as the week before.

For our local hospitals, that also means more patients walking through their doors.

We reached out to both Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and were provided the following statement from their Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Neil Kooy:

“As COVID-19 hospitalizations dramatically increase across the nation, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center is closely monitoring the local impacts of rising cases here in Bay County and our surrounding counties. Like many hospitals around the country, we are seeing an increase in the number of COVID-positive patients that need hospitalization with the vast majority being unvaccinated individuals.

“After many months of experiencing the effects of the pandemic, our hospital is well-positioned to manage the impacts of COVID-19 on the healthcare system here. We have surge plans in place that allow for expanding our capacity to serve an increased number of patients and we continue to plan by accessing the resources, support, and best practices across our HCA Healthcare family. At this time, we have the bed capacity, staffing, supplies, and equipment we need and our advanced planning ensures we can continue to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation evolves. Our hospital continues to practice the same mitigation strategies we have used throughout the pandemic to protect those in our care, including universal masking for all in our facilities and designated care areas for COVID-positive patients.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of becoming vaccinated. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be one of the most effective tools we have to stop the spread of the virus. Many hospitals have seen a trend in an increase in hospitalizations with the majority of admitted individuals being unvaccinated. It is imperative that everyone continues to take measures to protect yourself, your family, and our community, and follow guidance from public health officials to help stop this trend in its tracks.”

Dr. Kooy also indicated it has been on average 90% of unvaccinated individuals who are hospitalized.

Across town, at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Amer Malik told us in a statement:

“Recently, we’ve seen a significant and concerning increase in patients requiring hospitalization for COVID-19. While we cannot speak to the condition of these patients, we can say the majority of these patients are not vaccinated.

“The rise of COVID-19 cases as a result of the Delta variant is a matter we are watching closely. We do not know the specific percentage of new cases in Bay County that can be attributed to the Delta variant. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the new Delta variant accounted for 83 percent of new COVID-19 cases across the country.

“While we are currently able to safely provide care, this increase can directly impact the ability of all of our local health systems to provide care to other patients who do not have COVID-19 but require hospitalization for another reason.

“Everyone in our community plays a critical role in keeping us safe from this virus. The most effective way we can protect ourselves and each other right now is by getting vaccinated and encouraging our friends and family to get vaccinated.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of getting vaccinated and encouraging your loved ones to get vaccinated, as well. The approved vaccines are safe and effective, and the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any identified risks or side effects.”

Ascension Sacred Heart Bay informed us they could not provide specific hospitalization data for patients who were unvaccinated or vaccinated.

According to Florida’s latest COVID report, the positivity rate for the county is now at 26.7% which is higher than the state’s overall positivity rate of 15.1%.

A higher positivity rate also means there’s a need for more testing within the Bay County community.

“We have seen an increase in COVID testing over the past few weeks. Our goal is to meet the need for testing in the community so we have added an extra day at 315 East 11th Street downtown. That is on Mondays and then we are still open on Tuesdays at our Baypoint site which is 3900 Marriott Drive,” said Kyle Merritt, marketing and communications, Pancare Florida.

Pancare of Florida provides testing at no cost but you must make an appointment online. Pancare will also host a Pfizer vaccine clinic on August 5. You must also sign up online to attend the clinic.

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