MMH talks coronavirus hospitalizations, deaths, vaccine mandates

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MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar)- Midland Memorial Hospital held a news conference Tuesday to update the community on coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospital leaders say the overall census continues to head in a positive direction, but urges caution as colder weather moves in. 

As of Tuesday, the hospital said it is caring for 162 patients, 30 of those are hospitalized with either active COVID-19 cases or remain hospitalized as they continue to recover. 

“We’ve continued to see a decline, back to relatively normal levels of activity,” said Chief Executive Officer Russell Meyers.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, 11 are ventilated. According to the hospital, the patients range in age from 4-weeks-old to 90 and 97% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated. 

The hospital reported 31 coronavirus related deaths for October. And while that number declined from September, when the hospital reported 36 deaths, it remains relatively high. 

“We’ve continued to see deaths,” Meyers said. “Unfortunately, we have a population of patients who stay in the hospital for a lengthy period of time, even after they’re infectious, and some of that population have not survived.”

So far, MMH says two patients have died from virus complications in November. 

Overall, the positivity rate of those getting tested for coronavirus has fallen along with the hospitalization rate. For the last six weeks, about 22% of those tested through one of MMH’s testing centers tested positive for the virus. That fell to 12% last week.  That said, hospital leaders are urging caution as cold weather begins to move into the area. 

“We’ve seen a continuing decline in our testing numbers for the last several weeks now…it does appear that this surge is running its course…but we’re concerned about the winter. Not only about COVID, but about the Flu, about RSV, and all the typical respiratory viruses that we battle every winter,” Meyers said. 

A winter season filled with respiratory viruses could greatly impact the hospital, especially if staffing issues arise once the federal vaccine mandate takes effect. Earlier this year President Joe Biden mandated that all private businesses with more than 100 employees begin requiring vaccinations. Now MMH is waiting on guidance from The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will enforce the mandate, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the primary governing body for hospitals. 

“We continue to expect that there will be federal guidance on that any day now…(CMS guidance) will have the most profound impact on Midland Memorial staff. I haven’t seen those rules yet, but we expect to be in compliance once we see them,” Meyers said. 

So far, about 73% of the employees at MMH have been vaccinated. 

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