Seventeen people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are currently hospitalized in Franklin County, according to the daily report from the county health department.
That is an increase from the weekend report, when 12 people were hospitalized.
Eric Eoloff, president of Mercy Hospital Washington, said 15 of the 17 people are hospitalized there. Two patients are hospitalized at Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan.
“Of the 15 patients with COVID in our hospital, nine are receiving more intensive care. This remains a challenge for our hospital, as we try to bring in more critical care nursing staff,” said Eoloff, who added that recruiting more critical care nurses is a national challenge for hospitals as the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continues to increase across the country.
“Locally we are getting agency ICU nurses and medical/surgical nurses to join our teams caring for our sickest patients, including COVID patients,” Eoloff said. “In the meantime, our managers, supervisors, charge nurses, clinical nurse educators and our chief nursing officer are helping to staff as needed.”
The hospital’s intensive care unit has a capacity of 13 beds.
Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said the health department is concerned about the recent increase in hospitalizations.
The health department reported 25 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. Since March, 1,967 Franklin County residents have tested positive for the virus, which has sickened more than 134,000 people statewide. The virus also has led to the deaths of 2,200 Missourians.
Of those testing positive, 241 have tested positive for the virus in the past 10 days.
Fourteen Franklin County residents who live at long-term care facilities continue to have active infections.
Thirty Franklin County residents have died of the virus, including two men and two women in their 60s; five men and three women in their 70s; six men and four women in their 80s; and one man and seven women in their 90s.
To date, over 31,452 people in Franklin County have been tested for COVID-19, and of those tests 29,485 have been negative, according to the health department’s report.
Officials with the county health department did not disclose how many people have been tested in recent weeks, only since the pandemic began.
Despite high levels of hospitalizations, Eoloff said Mercy Hospital Washington is encouraged by what appears to be a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases in the community. Twenty people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Sept. 24.
He added the downward trend won’t be confirmed until the county experiences a consistent 14 days of that trend.
“We have had six days of decreasing new cases of COVID-19 in Franklin County,” Eoloff said. “That brings hope. But I would caution everyone that we need another week of data before we can make accurate predictions. We’ve seen the new case rate go significantly back up after a week.”
He added it is important to remember the incubation period for most new COVID-19 cases to develop symptoms has been up to 14 days.
“We continue to hope the community takes this virus more seriously by wearing face masks and socially distancing when appropriate,” Eoloff said.
The county’s public service announcement campaign for COVID-19, which provides education on precautions and mitigation measures, has been ongoing, and according to Brinker, the county has started receiving feedback.
“It has been a good use of the (CARES) funds, and all feedback has been positive,” Brinker said. “It has been good exposure to educate people on what they need to be doing to help themselves and others.”
He added overall he feels the people in the Franklin County community “get it” and have a good awareness of the situation.
“There is always room for improvement, but overall, I think the county has done very well.”