‘Strain’ on hospital continues: Over 90% of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s recent COVID hospitalizations are in unvaccinated patients | TheUnion.com

‘Strain’ on hospital continues: Over 90% of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s recent COVID hospitalizations are in unvaccinated patients

“I can … confirm that unvaccinated patients have represented over 90% of the COVID hospitalizations at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital since vaccines were made available earlier this year,” wrote William Hodges, Dignity Health’s regional director of external communications, in an email this week.

As of Wednesday, according to the state’s COVID-19: Hospitals dashboard, Nevada County had 22 hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients, with a 14-day rolling average of 26 patients.

Asked about the number of COVID-19 patients treated in Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room, Hodges said that there had been a decrease, alongside the number of hospitalizations per week trending downward from early August.

In early August, said Hodges, the hospital saw a high of 21 COVID-19 hospitalizations per week, while this week had seen 10 as of Wednesday.

Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s president and CEO, Dr. Brian Evans, had also described the COVID-19 volume there as “a little bit better” during a video update on Tuesday. He referenced last week, during which the county’s total hospitalizations on multiple days surpassed 30, comparing it to the beginning of this week, when these remained at 25 or lower.

“So, we’re feeling a little bit of a softening of that demand, which is very, very fortunate for us and we’re very, very grateful, and we hope that that trend continues,” Evans said in the video.

He went on to state that the continuation of that trend would depend “upon a couple of different things,” including vaccinations, mask wearing, and social distancing. He added that, increasingly, members of the community have been vaccinated, in addition to those who have “some natural immunity” from having contracted COVID-19.

As of Thursday, according to state data, Nevada County adults aged 18 to 49 had crossed the halfway mark for full vaccination — 50.1% fully vaccinated, with an additional 9.5% partially vaccinated.

Remaining the highest-percentage vaccinated age group in the county, residents 50 to 64 have reached 70.2% fully vaccinated, with an additional 8.5% partially vaccinated. Of residents 65 and older, 65.1% have been fully vaccinated, with 7.6% partially vaccinated.

This leaves only Nevada County’s youngest eligible age group — minors aged 12 to 17 — under the halfway mark in being fully vaccinated, although it has crossed it in receiving at least one dose. Within this group, 44.2% have been fully vaccinated, with an additional 11% partially vaccinated.

“While our hospital is experiencing COVID numbers on the decline at this moment in time, the overall volume of patients we’re seeing daily with varying health emergencies, including suspected COVID, remains extremely high, which continues to strain hospital staff and operations,” Hodges said.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

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