The Essex County Health Department reported another COVID-related death on Thursday, bringing the total number of COVID-related deaths across the county to 42.
“The individual was ill with COVID-19 and other underlying medical conditions before dying at home”, ECHD program coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh wrote in an email. “They weren’t vaccinated.
The health department is urging people whose symptoms of COVID-19 are worsening or cannot be managed at home to contact their health care provider before they become fatal.
“Emergency warning signs that require prompt medical attention include difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, inability to stay awake, or bluish lips or face.” Whitmarsh wrote.
The county reported 88 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday since its last update on Monday, with around 30 new cases found each day. As of Thursday, there were 155 active cases of COVID-19 in Essex County.
Among the new cases, 11 were in the north of Elba Island, six in Jay and five in Saint-Armand.
“We are seeing a significant increase in hospitalizations, among people of all ages, across the region and right here in Essex County,” Whitmarsh wrote. “We urge you to re-commit to diaper prevention strategies such as indoor mask wear, pre- and post-assembly testing, hand washing, physical distancing and, most importantly, vaccination. “
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone 5 years of age or older be vaccinated against COVID-19. People 18 and older are now eligible for booster shots if it has been six months since their last dose.
Last week Whitmarsh said the North Country is still in a “Active pandemic” phase.
The recent increase in cases is similar to the increase in COVID-19 cases this region experienced around the same time last year. At that time, public health officials attributed the increase in cases to holiday gatherings. This year, the number of active cases is several times higher than in 2020.
Last year, Essex County had 27 active cases of COVID-19 on December 4.
Saranac Lake Adirondack Medical Center reported four people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday. Two were on ventilators.
Update on elective surgery
On Friday, the state released more details of a new executive order that could potentially limit elective surgeries at hospitals like Adirondack Medical Center and Lake Placid Medical Health and Fitness Center if there is a influx of COVID-positive patients reducing the number of staff available beds to 10% or less.
“It seems there is more flexibility this time around”, Adirondack Health spokesperson Matt Scollin said. “Based on the measures reviewed by the DOH, we are fairly confident that we should be able to continue with the elective proceedings. “
When elective surgeries were cut for three weeks last year, Adirondack Health lost millions of dollars in revenue – at a rate of about $ 70,000 a day, Scollin said. Adirondack Health relies on these revenues to maintain its services. Adirondack Health CEO Aaron Kramer recently said the hospital network was able to recoup some of that revenue – the hospital received funding when Congress passed coronavirus relief programs the year last – but has never been able to make up for this lost time.
Governor Kathy Hochul last Friday signed an executive order allowing the state to again limit elective procedures in any hospital that sees an influx of patients and with 10% or less of reserved beds remaining open.
The order took effect on Friday. The first round of state determinations will be made by Monday and will apply to proceedings scheduled for Thursday or after.
Scollin said the state will make its decisions based on data sent to Adirondack Health on Thursday. The rate for staffed beds fluctuated from hour to hour. As of 5 p.m. Scollin said there were 41 staffed beds with 31 occupied, meaning about a quarter of their staffed beds were still available.
Scollin said AMC’s percentage of staffed open beds ranged from 12 to 19% earlier this week, as there were more people hospitalized with COVID-19.
Hochul said she passed the decree to keep bed capacity available if hospitalizations from COVID-19 increase.
“New York is now experiencing transmission of COVID-19 at rates the state has not seen since April 2021, and the rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions has increased over the past month to more 300 new admissions per day. “ state health ministry guidelines read.
The guidelines, released on Friday, say the state also has the power to stop elective procedures in hospitals in “High risk regions” even if they are individually still above the 10% threshold. The state said it was to prepare for possible increases in hospitalizations related to COVID-19.
Scollin said the North Country is one of the high-risk regions, but added that the DOH is also working with facilities individually to assess their peak capabilities.
“The DOH has certainly shown a willingness with these most recent guidelines to try to work with hospitals,” he said.
Any hospital deemed eligible would have their elective surgeries reduced for at least two weeks. If a hospital rises above its capacity threshold, it may be released from the ban on elective surgery. The order currently lasts until January 15, 2022.
Non-elective procedures that would still be allowed would be those involving cancer, including diagnostics; neurosurgery; “Insurmountable pain; “ very symptomatic patients; grafts; trauma; cardiac with symptoms; vascular procedures threatening the limbs; vascular dialysis access; and patients who are at a clinically high risk of harm if their procedures are not completed.
Last time around, Scollin said Adirondack Health had created a surgical review committee made up of doctors, nurses and clinical staff that would look at all possible surgeries in the coming days and decide which ones were medically urgent and which were not. were not. He said the hospital could have had big problems with the state if he hadn’t followed his rules about what was urgent and what was not. This committee would be restarted if the state deemed it necessary, he said.