COVID-19 cases causing delays, backlog at Greenville hospitals – Greenville News

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COVID-19 and children under 12: How the pandemic affects the unvaccinated

COVID-19 cases have spiked among children especially those under 12 who are unvaccinated. Here’s how to protect them.

Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

Ambulance crews are facing delays of up to three hours at area hospitals because of a backlog of COVID-19 patients, according to Greenville County Administrator Joe Kernell.

“This further complicates our ability to have adequate resources to respond to incoming 911 calls,” Kernell told County Council members during their meeting Tuesday night.

Kernell said it typically takes 30 minutes for county emergency medical services employees to offload a patient at a hospital, provide a report and prepare their ambulance for the next call.

But a spike in COVID-19 cases has left emergency departments clogged with patients waiting for hospital beds, Kernell said. As a result, he said, “our staff will be sitting there waiting for three hours because of the bottleneck.”

“We are very concerned because the hospital numbers are higher than they’ve been in the past — they hit some records just today, I understand,” Kernell said. “So the pandemic is alive and well.”

Saturday marked the third time the state has eclipsed 6,000 total cases in a day since January. There were 4,901 confirmed cases and 1,184 probable cases reported for a total of 6,085 cases.

The state eclipsed 7,000 cases twice in January.

On Tuesday there were 3,453 new confirmed cases and 304 probable.

Dr. Wendell James, Prisma Health’s chief clinical officer for the Upstate, warned Friday that if COVID-19 cases continue to rise and the public does not take action to mitigate the spread of the virus, there is a risk of overwhelming hospital systems around the state.

Warning: Prisma officials want public to take COVID seriously

Greenville County Schools has seen a significant jump in COVID-19 cases since the first day of school on Aug. 17, according to the district’s COVID-19 Dashboard.

Between Aug. 26 and Sept. 6, which is the most recent data available, there have been 1,135 reported cases of students with COVID-19, and there was an additional 52 staff cases reported from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

Greenville County Schools: More than 1,100 students test positive for COVID-19 in 12 days

Options for dealing with EMS delays

Kernell said one option under consideration to address ambulance response by county EMS officials is prolonging the response to non-emergency medical calls.

He said a more “drastic measure would be to initiate a provider-initiated refusal to transport.”

“In other words, someone calls and there is not a justifiable reason to transport them — we would definitely say ‘No, we’re not gonna be able to transport you at this time,'” Kernell said.

He said an effort also will be made to better educate the public about when they should not call 911.

“Do not call 911 when you just want information about COVID,” Kernell said. “Do not call 911 when you need a non-emergency doctor’s visit or you want to get tested, or you have mild symptoms.”

2 Greenville County Council members voice alarm about COVID-19 situation

Councilman Lynn Ballard said he met with a group of fire chiefs earlier Tuesday. He said the chiefs are aware that responses to medical calls in their areas might be delayed while county ambulances are stuck at hospitals.

“It’s a domino effect,” he said. “We have a real serious problem right now.”

Councilman Joe Dill also voiced a dire warning.

“If this thing gets worse, we could have people bleeding to death on the road.”

Check back for more on this developing story.

Kirk Brown covers government and  growth and politics for The Greenville News. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM. Please subscribe to The Greenville News by visiting