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Adams COVID Cases Jump Sharply, Stressing the Wellspan Health System and Gettysburg Hospital

After a summer that brought a consistently small number of new COVID cases, the fall has brought a spike in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to Adams County.

The problem is acute and will probably get worse after the holiday season when people are likely to socialize and spread the virus, and as we head into flu season.

To prevent the spread of the virus:
• Limit gathering sizes – even small gatherings carry big risk.

• Avoid eating or drinking in groups.
• Follow masking and social distancing guidelines.
• Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.

Gettysburg hospital, which had an average of only one or two COVID patients over the summer months today has 15 COVID patients. The number of patients on ventilators, which was at zero over the summer, has risen to three in the past week.

Wellspan reported that although treatments are getting better, the average stay for a COVID patient in the hospital is nine or ten days.

Wellspan is responding to the crisis by recruiting resources and making plans for alternatives. Wellspan said the hospital may need to close outpatient centers to move staff to care for COVID patients.

“We have the flu season and COVID 19 colliding over the next few months. Whether our health systems will have the capacity to deal with both is a question,” said Roxanna L. Gapstur, Ph.D., R.N., Wellspan’s president and CEO.

More young people are being infected. “We have some very sick young people in our hospitals,” said Anthony Aquilina D.O., Wellspan’s Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive.

Adams County’s percent testing positivity rate — the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are positive– made a 22 percent jump this week from 4.8 percent to 5.9 percent. This means there are many more people with the virus in the county.

State and National health organizations frequently use a 5% cutoff as a sign that the virus is not under control in a region. Under these circumstances stricter regulations regarding wearing masks, physical distancing, and avoiding large gatherings are likely to be imposed.

The number of COVID cases jumped almost 9 percent to 1,341 with 162 new COVID cases this week. This is the largest one-week increase since the pandemic began.

The county’s death rate increased by three, after jumping by four last week, reaching a total of 34 deaths in the county.

Wellspan said communities of color are particularly hard hit by COVID and that mental health is also being negatively affected.

“It’s important we each take the time to practice safe, healthy behaviors. A little goes a long way,” said Aquilina.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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