A medical official with Northeast Georgia Health System said he is feeling optimistic amid a steady decline over the past few days in the number of patients at the health system with COVID-19.
As of Monday, the number of patients with COVID-19 receiving care at NGHS facilities was down to 282. The number of COVID patients being treated at the health system in the fourth surge of cases previously reached 333 on Sept. 9.
"The number of cases is starting to decline a little bit, and we are cautiously optimistic about that," Dr. Deepak Aggarwal, chief of medical staff at NGHS, said.
NGHS officials previously told the community that the number of patients being treated with COVID-19 at NGHS facilities could reach 500 as part of the fourth surge. However, Dr. Aggarwal said the current modeling shows that the number could still reach between 350 or 400. If patient numbers continue to drop, this modeling could drop as well.
Dr. Aggarwal said that while the number of COVID-19 positive patients is showing a downturn, one statistic worth keeping an eye on relates to ventilator usage.
"Our ventilator usage back in the previous surge had never crossed 60%," Dr. Aggarwal said. "With this delta variant, we know this variant has been very aggressive, and more and more patients have ended up in critical care beds requiring ventilators. That number has really soared. I think the highest we got up to was 87%, and that was back on Sept. 4."
As of Monday, ventilator usage at NGHS facilities was at 74%.
Dr. Aggarwal said the average number of deaths in patients with COVID-19 at NGHS facilities has been between seven and nine per day. However, he said he believes this number is still down compared to previous surges as a result of people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.