“Some records were not meant to be broken.”
A week later, the record was indeed broken. LVHN’s latest COVID-19 report shows between 300 and 350 coronavirus patients across all its hospitals, setting a new high for the network. And its message was more urgent:
“This virus is real. This surge is real. Your impact on our community is real,” the latest Facebook post said. “Social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick. Stop the surge.”
LVHN did not respond to a request for more information on its status Wednesday.
The other major Lehigh Valley hospital chain, St. Luke’s University Health Network, has not said how many COVID-19 patients it is treating but told lehighvalleylive.com that it has not yet matched its spring peak, though it has seen an increase in patients in recent weeks.
St. Luke’s spokesperson Samuel Kennedy said that the hospital system stands ready to share staff and resources, that the average stay for coronavirus patients is shorter than in the spring, and that outpatient clinics at its Easton and Phillipsburg campuses are helping to reduce hospitalizations.
As Pennsylvania coronavirus cases surge this fall, so do hospitalizations. As of Wednesday, 4,982 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across the state. For comparison, there were 2,800 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at the state’s springtime peak in April.
Pennsylvania could cross 5,000 current hospitalizations this week. The number of those patients on ventilators is also rising, with 565 patients — over 100 more than this time last week — currently intubated. The state’s record is 685 total ventilators in use, and Pennsylvania is creeping that direction.
Hospitals have been told to be ready to share resources as state health officials have repeatedly warned of projections that show the state running out of intensive care unit beds as soon as this month. Wednesday’s state-level data showed 967 adults with COVID-19 in ICUs, with 15.5% of adult ICU beds still available statewide.
Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 dashboard also showed seven ICU beds available in Lehigh County, where 44 adults are in intensive care with coronavirus-related illness, among 211 total COVID-19 patients. The same dashboard shows just three ICU beds available in Northampton County, where 30 COVID-19 patients are being treated, including seven adults in intensive care. Neighboring Berks County has run out of adult ICU beds, according to state data and the Reading Eagle newspaper.
Lehighvalleylive.com journalist Connor Lagore contributed to this report.
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Steve Novak may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.