PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — As Covid cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Virginia and across the nation, health care workers are bracing for another winter surge.
Virginia saw its highest number of hospitalizations toward the end of last January after the holidays. 10 On Your Side dove into the data to see how the numbers compare from this time last year.
According to data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA), hospitalizations are down from Dec. 21 last year with 2,108 reported then and 1,425 confirmed Tuesday. That is a 32% decrease.
The number of ICU patients a year ago was 528, today it’s 37. That is a 28% decrease.
“This is a different year than last year last year we were in the midst of a significant surge,” VHHA Communications Director Julian Walker told WAVY.
We were also just rolling out the first vaccines, he said.
“We do have the benefit of at least having a segment of the population vaccinated this time around, so you know, we would hope that things do not — in terms of hospitalizations and new cases — get elevated to where they were last year,” Walker said.
VHHA reports the highest peak last January when Virginia hospitals had on average 3,000 COVID-19 patients a day.
“Virginia for the most part has been fortunate to have not found itself in the situation of other states where you know, the system was really strained to its breaking point,” Walker said.
Hospital staff and finances, however, continue to struggle as they enter year three of the pandemic.
“The preparation level is high, the hope is that we don’t end up in this situation where the system is strained to its limits,” Walker said.
Most of those in hospitals now are unvaccinated, leading Walker to echo the call of health professionals everywhere to get a shot and booster.
On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Health also issued a statement urging Virginians to get their booster shots and practice mitigation measures. So far, about 1.8 million Virginians have received their booster shot.
“We may be through with COVID-19, but COVID-19 is not through with us,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “Unlike a year ago, however, we have tools to protect ourselves. The vaccines we have now are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to infection with the Omicron variant, especially among those who have received their booster dose. If you’re not vaccinated or have not gotten your booster dose, now is the time to do so.”