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Mount Nittany Officials ‘Very Concerned’ By Rise In COVID-19 Hospitalizations

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in Centre County, Mount Nittany Medical Center officials are urging community members to continue practicing safety measures including masking, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.

The hospital has 29 COVID-19 inpatients between the ages of 47 and 90 as of Tuesday morning, an increase of five since Monday. Since March 1, Mount Nittany has had more than 100 COVID admissions and an average daily census of 18 COVID positive inpatients.

It’s the highest number of COVID-19 inpatients the hospital has had in seven weeks and the overall census at the 260-bed facility is at its highest since before the pandemic, Tiffany Cabibbo, executive vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, said in a statement.

In February, Mount Nittany had similar numbers with 96 COVID-19 admissions and an average daily census of 18 — but that was a steep drop from January when there were 211 COVID admissions and an average census of 41.

The rise could have an impact on services. Cabibbo said that if needed Mount Nittany is prepared to operate under its surge capacity plan, which has been used several times during the pandemic and may include the rescheduling of non-essential surgeries and procedures.

“We hope that we do not reach that point again, but the rise in COVID-19 cases and subsequent rising hospitalizations has us very concerned,” she said.

An increase in hospitalizations has followed a spike in new cases in the county in recent weeks. The Pennsylvania Department of Health had not released Tuesday’s data as of 1 p.m., but between Saturday and Monday, the county added 214 cases. Over the past two weeks, the county has reported nearly 1,000 new positives.

Penn State and local officials held a joint press conference on Friday to urge continued vigilance amid the rise in cases and confirmation that wastewater analysis revealed the presence of the more potent and highly transmissible B117 variant, or “UK variant,” in the State College area.

“We’re joining together because our concern and call for continued vigilance is for the whole community,” Mayor Ron Filippelli said. “This is not a matter of students being more lax or community members or visitors. It’s about everyone.”

Nearly 43,000 people in Centre County are at least partially covered by COVID-19 vaccines, including more than 26,000 who are fully covered either through the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or both required doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, according to health department data.

Mount Nittany, the county’s largest vaccine distributor, has administered more than 28,000 doses to date and has more than 5,000 future appointments currently scheduled.

“Because it will take many months to vaccinate everyone, we cannot stress enough how essential it is that we remain vigilant in the face of this very serious virus,” Cabibbo said. “We are not out of the woods yet, and we must work together to stay strong and continue to consistently practice safety measures including masking, frequent hand washing and social distancing.”

The call to remain vigilant has been a familiar refrain over the past year, but an imperative one.

“We understand that this repeated message is something everyone is tired of hearing,” Cabibbo said. “Please know that we’re equally tired of saying it, but it will take all of us to get through this. On behalf of every COVID positive inpatient, and the doctors, nurses and staff that care for them, please do all you can to help us return to better days.”

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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