Hospitals in Cedar Rapids see big uptick in COVID admissions over last 14 days

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise locally, especially among the unvaccinated.

“A lot more people are getting it and it’s very rapid, it’s concerning,” Dr. Tony Myers, the vice president of medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center, said.

Just two weeks ago, Mercy and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids had a combined 13 people hospitalized for COVID-19. In just 14 days, that number has increased to 51 as the delta variant spreads.

“It’s a real big jump in 14 days, in fact if you look in July we had a total of 4 admissions in 21 days. This past weekend we had 12 admissions in 3 days,” Myers said.

The rise at St. Luke’s has hospital leaders taking a look at old methods they used earlier in the pandemic to make sure they had the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

“Will we have to curtail our normal activities to be able to care for those patients? That’s something that, we’re not doing that yet but we’re looking at that contingency which we’ve done before,” Dr. Dustin Arnold, the chief medical officer at St. Luke’s, said.

Another thing that’s been increasing is the number of breakthrough infections, meaning people fully vaccinated getting COVID-19. There are six currently hospitalized at Mercy.

“We know that the delta is more infectious, that’s very clear. It’s at least twice as infectious as the original one and it does appear that it’s more resistant to the vaccine as well,” Myers said.

Still, the vast majority of people being admitted for COVID-19 are those who have not yet had a vaccine. 37% of those eligible in Linn County have yet to get a shot despite them being widely available.

”The vaccines keep you out of the hospital with the Delta variant, they keep you from dying,” Arnold said.

“That population that’s not vaccinated at all, are still clearly the highest risk even though we are seeing the breakthrough. 75% of the people that are getting admitted to the hospital and most of the critically ill patients are unvaccinated,” Myers said.

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