While hospitalizations are up because of COVID-19, new positive cases seem to be stabilizing and a new treatment is allowing people to bet better at home, health officials said Tuesday.
The number of those hospitalized reached 433 Tuesday, officials said during Gov. John Carney’s weekly COVID-19 press conference, which is streamed live. Of those, 61 were in critical condition.
Hospitals are holding their own, Carney said, but the state can’t afford the kind of rise in cases it saw after Halloween through Thanksgiving until now.
On Nov. 2, only 107 people were hospitalized, but that was a rise from the summer’s lower numbers. By Dec. 4, 306 people were hospitalized. That rose to 338 on Dec. 7, 376 on Dec. 14 and 433 Today.
Hospital are able to handle the capacity because their censuses are flat. Other people are not seeking elective surgeries or getting some treatment now, officials said. That leaves more beds for COVID-19 patients.
But Delaware cannot handle a run-up of 200 or more patients after Christmas like it had after Thanksgiving, said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health. She, Carney and Dr. Rick Hong, medical director of Public Health, urged people to continue following infection control protocols and wear masks around people they don’t live with, observe social distancing and stay home as much as possible.
In general, patients are in and out of the hospital more quickly, the officials said.
Fewer patients have had to be on ventilators, partly because treatments are better now and often given more quickly.
Some Delaware patients — particularly those who are older and those who have other health conditions — are being given monoclonal antibody treatments that can be given to patients to keep them out of the hospitals, state officials said. Those treatments are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses.
If more hospital beds are needed. they likely will be created within a hospital before activating spaces in Nemours Children’s Hospital or setting up tent hospitals, said A.J. Schall Jr., director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.
He cited Bayhealth’s deal with Genesis Healthcare to take recovering patients and care for them outside of the hospital, freeing up more beds for those who need them.
The state is also using more rapid antigen tests among younger people who are in the age groups in which the virus is rampant, and also older people who are much more at risk, Schall said.