Newport News, VA— (Sept.9, 2021) – The recent surge in COVID-19 infections over the past few months has tested all of us in many  ways. Our communities, the team at Riverside, first responders, other health systems, and many more came together in an unprecedented way last year to fight the pandemic and heroically meet its challenges. Now the Delta variant cases are approaching the initial COVID-related totals we witnessed at the peak in January 2021 (chart below provides a snapshot of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Eastern region of Virginia is shown below). Data is through September 07, 2021. Although we are all anxious to move past this pandemic, we must gather the courage and resources to continue the fight.

Across Riverside Health System, an overwhelming majority, approximately 80%, of COVID-19 related hospitalizations are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. Below is a summary of our patients discharged over the last 30 days that had confirmed COVID at the time of discharge:

Age
● 19 – 49: 92% of this age group were unvaccinated/partially vaccinated
● 50 – 64: 93% of this age group were unvaccinated/partially vaccinated
● 65 – 95: 61% of this age group were unvaccinated/partially vaccinated

Intensive Care
● 83% were unvaccinated/partially vaccinated
● 17% were fully vaccinated:

Mortality
● 3% deaths in the hospital, 100% unvaccinated

Race
● White: 73% were unvaccinated
● African American: 80% were unvaccinated
● Other/Multiracial: 100% were unvaccinated

The cases where a vaccinated person contracts the virus typically do not require hospitalization, and those that do are usually the result of other, non-COVID-related comorbidities such as congestive heart failure, obesity, and diabetes.

Worldwide results show that the vaccine is safe and very effective. In addition, the vaccine significantly reduces the likelihood of contracting and spreading the virus, requiring hospitalization, or dying because of COVID-19. While it is true that receiving the vaccine is a personal choice, refusing to participate in the solution affects the entire community, including the young, who, at this point, are unable to receive the vaccine.

In addition to the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, our community faces a shortage of healthcare workers. As a result, staffing is lower than before the pandemic began. The demands on health systems are only increasing, impacting many areas as the need for hospital beds to treat COVID-19 patients increases. We recognize that some of you have had to reschedule elective surgeries that require an overnight stay. Others are experiencing longer-than-normal wait times in our hospital emergency departments. Our dedicated teams are working hard to care for COVID-19 patients and those experiencing life-threatening illnesses and conditions.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening injury or illness, please don’t hesitate to seek immediate emergency care. But if you are experiencing symptoms that are mild, such as sore throat and cough with a low-grade fever, please consider visiting your primary care provider, schedule an on-demand video visit or visit a local urgent care facility rather than your hospital’s emergency room.

We urge everyone eligible to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Everyone can help by renewing their commitment to the best practices we learned last year: masks, hand washing, social distancing, and vaccination. When you follow these practices, you are protecting yourself, your community and showing gratitude to the workers who are giving their energy, talent, and love to keep us healthy and safe. Like you, we are concerned for our team members, friends and families too. Riverside has proudly served Eastern Virginia for over 100 years. In that century of service, we have seen our community rise to many challenges…we will rise to meet this challenge too.

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