'The waves have kind of kept rising:' North Carolina COVID-19 hospitalizations continue surging following holidays

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nearly every hospital around the Triangle is kicking up efforts and trying to accommodate the rising number of COVID-19 patients as hospitalizations continue surging.

"Really since Thanksgiving, the waves have kind of kept rising," said WakeMed Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris DeRienzo.

Health care professionals are preparing to be in this fight for a bit.

"I don't expect it ease off for the next two weeks," said DeRienzo.

Federal data shows, on average each day last week, 25% of ICU patients at Duke University Hospital had confirmed or suspected COVID-19, compared to 22% in the previous week. At UNC-Chapel Hill and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, 26% of ICU beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Person Memorial treated the highest percentage of COVID-19 patients in the ABC11 viewing area. Around 89% of the ICU was occupied by people battling the deadly virus on average each day last week.

WakeMed saw some of the biggest spikes in the Triangle.

Around 68% of folks in the Cary campus' ICU each day were dealing with COVID-19.


DeRienzo said on a daily basis, units are being retrofitted to make space for more beds.
His staff extensively planned for this rise in cases.

"What we're walking through right now has been built through nine months of truly intense, war time effort," he said.

WakeMed is scaling back on non-emergency procedures, but not to the same extent as last spring.

Back then, elective surgeries were canceled statewide in one big swoop.

DeRienzo said a team looks at cases every day deciding what procedures need to be done and what can be pushed out.

"They tell me they're not going to be able to stop doing that any time soon," he said.
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