COVID-19 hospitalizations in Rowan at highest point since winter peak

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2021

SALISBURY — The number of COVID-19 patients at Rowan Medical Center is at its highest point since a winter peak.

Data reported to federal health officials last week show 21 inpatient intensive care beds filled at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and 179 total beds in use. While those numbers include more than coronavirus patients, they reflect COVID-19 numbers that are close to the hospitalizations during the winter, said Rowan Medical Center President and COO Gary Blabon.

“This is a critical time for our health care systems and for our communities,” Blabon said.

Despite the wide availability of vaccines, more than 91% of the people at Novant Health hospitals for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, he said.

“And they are sicker than the patients we saw during earlier surges,” Blabon said. “The average age of admitted patients is the lowest it has been since the pandemic started. At the same time, our emergency departments are seeing higher than usual summer volumes of patients seeking care for other health concerns.”

The 21 intensive care beds occupied are just one shy of the 22-bed capacity reported to federal health officials, but a statement from Novant Health said the facility has extensive surge planning in place, including adding critical care capabilities.

“It’s important for our community to know that we have the continued ability to care for them, and that they should seek care when they need it,” Blabon said.

The 179 total inpatient beds occupied is about 66% of the reported capacity of 269.

Across Rowan County’s region, the Triad Health Care Preparedness Coalition, 3,642 of the 4,819 staffed hospital beds are in use. Of those, 724 are COVID-19 patients. There are 175 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the region.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services last week reported nine Rowan County residents died from COVID-19. Included in that total are three deaths that occurred Monday and two that occurred Tuesday. Other deaths were reported last week and occurred previously.

State data show 16 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan County during the month of August and 332 since the start of the pandemic.

Rowan County remains eighth in the state for its number of COVID-19 deaths. Seventh is Buncombe County, with 338 deaths.

Cases are rising at rates not see since a winter spike, with more than 150 reported Friday and and 1,505 in the previous two weeks.

Adjusted for population, the number of daily new cases in Rowan is higher than any neighboring county and among the highest in the state.