Courtney Sampson, D.O., Saint Vincent doctor discusses Erie’s second COVID-19 surge
Courtney Sampson, D.O., a hospitalist at Saint Vincent Hospital, describes the recent spike in COVID-19 patients.
David Bruce, Erie Times-News
UPMC Hamot and Saint Vincent Hospital have seen their COVID-19 admissions decline in recent days, but officials from both Erie hospitals aren’t ready to suggest that the region’s second surge is finished.
They point to the increased number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Erie County — 371 last week compared to 308 the previous week, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The county’s daily number of new COVID-19 cases dropped over the Labor Day weekend but rose to 104 on Wednesday, the highest number reported in a single day since March 11.
The county also reported five deaths due to COVID-19 complications, the highest number reported in a day since March 3.
“I’m not looking at today’s hospitalizations as much as I’m focusing on next week’s and the following week’s,” said Jim Donnelly, R.N., Hamot’s chief quality and nursing officer. “The people who test positive today, a certain percentage of them are the people who are admitted to a hospital in a week to 10 days.”
The reported number of county residents hospitalized for COVID-19 declined in recent days, from 56 on Friday to 40 on Tuesday, according to the state health department.
Saint Vincent saw its COVID-19 census drop from 30 patients over the weekend to 22 on Monday, said Christopher Clark, D.O., Saint Vincent president.
“We have seen fewer admissions in recent days, and that has helped us catch up,” Clark said. “But I caution people that we are not out of the woods yet.”
As if to prove Clark’s point, the county’s number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients rose Wednesday to 47, with 27 of them in intensive-care units and nine of them requiring ventilators.
COVID cases in children in Erie region
Cases, and later hospitalizations, could rise as the school year continues and cooler weather brings more people indoors, said Melissa Lyon, Erie County Department of Health director.
The county health department has learned of “a handful” of COVID-19 cases at county schools but no significant outbreaks since the school year started.
“It’s still pretty early in the year, but it’s encouraging,” Lyon said. “We do have the face masking mandate for the schools and I do not know of any major compliance issues.”
Saint Vincent reported a second child with COVID-19 who needed to be admitted to the hospital since the surge started. The first patient was transferred to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, but this one was admitted to Saint Vincent and released after a few days, Clark said.
Hamot has not admitted or transferred any pediatric patients during this surge in cases, officials said.
“I’d love to be optimistic but I am concerned about the risk of pediatric cases, especially since school has started everywhere,” Clark said.
An overwhelming majority of COVID-19 patients at Hamot and Saint Vincent are not fully vaccinated, Clark and Donnelly said.
At least 80% of COVID-19 patients at Saint Vincent and other Allegheny Health Network hospitals are not fully vaccinated, while Donnelly estimated that “only about 10%” of Hamot’s COVID-19 patients are fully vaccinated.
“And the patients with COVID who are vaccinated are always special cases,” Donnelly said. “They have some type of compromised immune system, either they take immune-suppressing drugs or have an illness that affects their immune system. The vaccine works.”