A glimmer of hope as COVID-19 hospitalizations dip

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Statewide, hospitalizations dipped about 10% this week, though still remain high.

"At one point last week, I had 129 folks in-house that were either active with COVID infection or post their infectious period, but still very, very sick and hospitalized. Today, I'm sitting at 115. So it's coming down a bit," said Mary Martin, the Chief Operating Officer of Duke University Hospital.

The increases in December and the first part of January, likely stemming from holiday travel, led to the highest case counts in North Carolina since the beginning of the pandemic.

Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine in NC? Tracking availability and progress

"We have created temporary walls on units and then taken them down and then put them back up again when the COVID populations surges or dips," Martin said.

Martin described maintaining staffing levels as a "daily struggle."

"These folks are heroes working every day with some of the sickest patients you'll ever see. And it's not just older individuals. We're seeing people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, very, very sick," Martin said.

Gov. Cooper on vaccination process: 'There's not nearly enough vaccine to go around'

Balancing COVID-19 patients, as well as people hospitalized for other reasons, presents logistical challenges.

"We are trying to cohort those folks on a unit so we can staff that appropriately, our respiratory therapists, etc. So those are some of the logistical challenges, where we've had to take over a whole Med Surge unit or a whole ICU and now say this is now the COVID area," Martin said.

The presence of COVID-19 has affected non-COVID patients, leading to restrictions on visitors.

"We are also working on making sure that folks have access to iPads and other devices so they can Zoom and see family members," Martin said.

Martin encouraged people to sign up for the vaccine when they are eligible to do so.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.