Gov. John Carney and state health officials have been saying for weeks that the state has the capacity to care for about 450 coronavirus related hospitalizations.
As ofTuesday, Dec. 8, the state sits at 338 hospitalizations, 41 of which are considered critical cases.
Those hospitalizations were often the focus of Carney’s weekly COVID-19 press conference Tuesday, as he and others said the state is looking for options if the surge becomes worse, but thankful for better treatments.
The state options range from helping hospitals find ways to keep taking in patients to finding more space for COVID or other patients in area facilities.
Hospitalizations are at their highest number for the state since the spring and continue to rise at a quick pace.
Carney said hospitalizations are the most accurate number the state looks at, because hospitals know exactly how many people they are treating.
“We look at all the data, but this hospitalization number is the most important,” Carney said when asked if there’s specific number the state looks at when considering whether to shut businesses back down.
“But we can’t kill the patient with the therapy here,” he said, referring to the impact a shutdown would have on the economy.
The state has been working to protect the hospitals through things such as helping Bayhealth open up parts of their new facility in Milford for coronavirus care and partnering with Genesis in Milford to take patients from Bayhealth when they no longer need hospital care, but aren’t ready to go home yet.
Carney also said that the state has looked at opening up additional hospital beds with the help of the National Guard.
Testing Czar A.J. Schall Jr. — who recently recovered from his own bout with COVID-19 — said opening up an additional COVID hospital or ward wouldn’t necessarily benefit the state, because the state would have to take reservists out of their civilian nursing jobs to run the operation.
“We can’t rob Peter to pay Paul,” Schall said. “But we will have ongoing discussions with Nemours that could provide some flexibility for our hospitals.”
Carney also briefly spoke about how turnaround times for hospitalizations have been quicker this fall.
“There are obviously people that are very sick, as we are still having fatalities,” Carney said. “But we’re better off than we were in the spring as we now have treatments.”
Dr. Karyl Rattay noted that fewer people are being required to go into the ICU and fewer people are being placed on ventilators than were in the spring.
That’s because doctors are prescribing specific steroid and antibody treatments that are keeping most people from declining sharply and helping them to recover more quickly.
These have helped to shorten the time a patient needs to be in the hospital.
Carney said that hospitals will be allowed to continue elective surgeries, at least for the time being rather than having the state dictate to them.
“it’s a number of things, and it starts with the hospitals themselves understanding the situations they have,” Carney said, “and knowing how to manage their individual faculties.”