COVID may be rising, but few hospitalized
While COVID-19 is still around and may possibly be growing, hospitalizations remain low.
According to Dr. Michael Faulk, interim Public Health Director for Chautauqua County, testing is not reported as much as it has been in the past, so the county is focusing more on hospitalization. “Our three Chautauqua County hospitals have noted hospitalization rates in the single digits on any given day since a spike in February 2023,” he said in an email.
Faulk noted that from Tuesday to Wednesday this week, there were seven people in the three hospitals, with one person in the Intensive Care Unit. “This is in stark contrast to the hospitalization rate in December 2021 to January 2022 where hospitalizations were approaching 35 to 50 on a daily basis and deaths were occurring regularly,” he said.
Still, Faulk said having seven people hospitalized may be a sign that the virus is still an issue. “This may reflect a local increase in overall COVID cases over the last two weeks,” he said.
According to the Chautauqua County wastewater dashboard on Thursday, COVID levels are reported as substantial, which is less than 25%, in Dunkirk, Westfield and the South & Center Sewer District that surrounds Chautauqua Lake. Jamestow is listed as moderate.
During the pandemic, counties across the state and country would regularly report positive cases. Those numbers were put into spread sheets and available for public viewing. Faulk noted that is no longer the case. “Tracking COVID case data is challenged by an overall lack of testing and reporting,” he said.
But even if COVID numbers are higher now than earlier this year, Faulk is not predicting a spike in severe cases. “(Low hospitalization) tells us that the virus is not affecting individuals how it did in 2021 and 2022 when many were either not vaccinated or had not yet had COVID. Our hope is that this virus is now less virulent due to previous infections and vaccinations causing an overall robust immunity,” he said.
There is still a concern for those who struggle with chronic health problems. “We do recognize that COVID continues to have the potential to cause more severe illness in those who have diabetes, chronic respiratory disease such as COPD, weakened immune systems or individuals older than 75,” he said.
Faulk recommends residents remain vigilant. “While deaths and hospitalizations have overall declined, we should all remain cautious especially as we move into the winter respiratory illness season which also includes influenza and RSV. We recommend individuals speak with their healthcare providers to discuss the risks and benefits of available immunizations to help prevent these respiratory illnesses,” he said.
For more information on COVID-19, including testing, vaccines, isolation and exposure, and treatment visit www.HEALTHYCHQ.com.