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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
According to Pike County Health Department (PCHD) Director of Nursing Sharon Bargmann, in December the highest number of COVID-19 cases were recorded in Pike County since the pandemic began.
“We had 786 cases last month,” Bargmann said. “The only month that was remotely close was Nov. 2020, and there were 495 that month. It’s out of control. It’s the most number of cases we’ve had since the pandemic began. People are sick – very sick.”
In addition, Bargmann reported in a news release, PCHD was notified of six COVID-19 related deaths in December.
Bargmann attributed some of the community spread to residents’ unwillingness to take basic precautions against spreading the virus.
“Everybody’s over it,” Bargmann said. “They don’t want to deal with it. They don’t want to wear a mask.”
Bargmann warned that the increase in COVID-19 cases has stressed hospitals to the point that patients are unable to be treated effectively.
“You may have trouble getting placement in the hospital, because there are no beds,” Bargmann said.
Bargmann emphasized that the best way to stop the disease was prevention.
“You’ve got to get vaccinated and boosted,” Bargmann said. “Wear a mask, and wash your hands.”
While much of the national news media has been focused on the, reportedly, milder Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, Bargmann said the Delta variant is still predominant in the area.
“I’ve not seen Omicron come across my desk,” Bargmann said. “It’s still Delta, and people are getting very sick, and it’s not just the elderly like it used to be.”
Illini Administrator Kathy Hull also said that the recent COVID-19 spike has created stress on healthcare providers.
“I think it’s safe to say that hospitals – for a lot of reasons – are having a hard time right now,” Hull said.
In addition to the spike in COVID-19 cases, Hull attributes the increased pressure on hospitals to a shortage of workers.
“There are a lot of beds available, but there’s not the staff to attend to the beds,” Hull said. “A lot of people have left healthcare during the pandemic. Retirements are up.”
Like Bargmann, Hull stated that the recent COVID-19 case numbers are elevated.
“I can sense that we’ve had an increase in the number of COVID patients,” Hull said. “There’s no doubt.”
Also echoing Bargmann, Hull said Pike County has not yet borne the brunt of the emergent – and reportedly more transmissible – Omicron variant of the virus, but she is anticipating its arrival in Pike County.
“We haven’t seen a lot of the Omicron variant,” Hull said. “But we are working to get the appropriate medications for inpatient and outpatient treatment.”