COVID-19 update

COVID-19 claims three more Pierce residents

Pierce County’s total number of reported virus cases tipped 1,000 and three new deaths were added to the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) record last week, marking a total of 30 reported fatalities since the pandemic began.

The most recent virus fatalities include an 80-year-old man, 81-year-old man and 71-year-old woman.

The families of a few COVID-19 victims have requested privacy so their loved ones have not been publicly identified, but 11 more virus victims remain unidentified by The Times because the county coroner’s office has no death record matching those victims’ descriptions. The coroner is not always called to certify deaths that occur in a long term care home, hospital or Hospice House. Those facilities often certify the death on site.

Local health officials say the post-holiday surge in virus cases is taxing hospital resources and exhausting medical professionals.

“The hospital is close to critical mass.“The hospital is close to critical mass. I admitted six COVID patients last night (January 14) ...,” Dr. Brent Waters reported Friday. “Everyone is doing everything they can but the biggest problem is a lack of nurses. Everyone is exhausted  — from physicians to nurses to janitorial staff  — but we are persevering.”,” Dr. Brent Waters reported Friday. “Everyone is doing everything they can but the biggest problem is a lack of nurses. Everyone is exhausted  — from physicians to nurses to janitorial staff  — but we are persevering.”

Memorial Satilla Health CEO Bobby McCullough was hopeful Monday morning, however, that the worst had passed. The COVID-19 positive inpatient total was 50 Friday and had come down to 44 by Monday.

“Over the last part of last week and over the weekend we experienced a reduced volume of COVID-related visits and admissions. I’d say at this point we remain vigilant, but hopeful that we are through the busiest phase of this most recent surge in the community,” McCullough said. “Although the system has definitely been stressed, our team continued to meet the challenge of caring for the community just as they have during the entire pandemic.”

Pierce County School Report

Pierce County School System reported 14 new cases last week  — nine students and five employees  — which brings the total to 30 cases over the last two weeks. Twenty-four students and seven staff members began quarantining at home last week due to possible COVID-19 exposure at school.