Strained by COVID surge, Vidant again urges awareness

Published 5:50 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly and COVID-19 testing numbers rising well above where they were during the Delta variant outbreak, Vidant Health is “significantly strained” in its ability to serve Eastern North Carolina.

Since Dec. 1, 2021, the hospital system has seen a 340% increase in the weekly average of COVID-19 positivity rate, as well as a 183% increase in the total number of COVID-positive inpatients. Officials say the majority of those inpatients are unvaccinated.

“We all need to work together to be sure that Vidant Health can take care of eastern North Carolina,” said Brian Floyd, president of Vidant Medical Center and chief operating officer of Vidant Health Hospitals. “What you can do is wear masks and social distance and wash your hands. You can vaccinate and get a booster that has shown to significantly reduce your likelihood of needing hospitalization, and will usually result in just milder symptoms of COVID-19.

“If you think you have COVID-19, you likely do,” Floyd added. “About 40% of our tests are coming back positive. So if you have those symptoms, stay home, wear a mask, isolate yourself.”

Floyd said the volume of positive tests is currently “the highest by far that we’ve seen throughout this pandemic.”

EMERGENCY ROOM

Vidant wants people to consider several factors when deciding if they need to go to the emergency room for COVID-related reasons.

“If you need care beyond over-the-counter care, call your physician before you come to the emergency department,” Floyd said. “And do not come to the emergency department for getting a test or for minor symptoms. Seek your family physician if you need medical care, unless it is a true emergency — and testing for COVID-19 is not in and of itself an emergency condition.”

Floyd said system wide, Vidant is working through a “very high volume” of COVID-19 tests, and long lines often form before test sites open. He said those seeking COVID-19 tests should expect long waits.