MMH talks FDA approval, how to stay safe in large gatherings

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What you need to know from Tuesday’s update

MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar)- Midland Memorial Hospital held a news conference Tuesday to update the community on coronavirus. 

As of Tuesday morning, MMH reported it is caring for 115 patients with the virus. 98 of those patients are currently positive, 17 are recovering.  The patients range in age from 19 to 78, and 88% of those patients are unvaccinated, according to Chief Operating Officer Stephen Bowerman. 

The hospital says it is down 24 employees due to the virus, however, staffing help sent by the state has allowed the hospital to open 12 additional beds to help meet the growing need. 

Additionally, with extra staff, the hospital says it has expanded testing capacity at the F. Marie Hall Outpatient Center. Anyone needing a coronavirus test is encouraged to call 68NURSE to set up an appointment. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wilson says the hospital expects the surge in patients to continue for a while as the positivity rate remains high. 

“As the cases go, the hospitalizations and deaths go,” Wilson said. “So, when the case counts start dropping, seven to ten days later, we should start seeing a drop in hospitalizations. We have not seen that occur yet.”

Which is why the hospital is urging caution when gathering in large groups, especially as footballs games are set to resume this week. Additionally, Midland County Fair, Permian Basin Fair, and the Permian Basin International Oil Show are preparing to welcome visitors in the coming weeks. 

“We have levels of concerns with what’s happening in our community and what we’re seeing with COVID patients,” said Bowerman. “We’re not in the business of telling people they can’t have their events, but what we would strongly encourage people to do is get vaccinated. Try to have your event outside, wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands, follow all the CCD guidance that has been provided. If we can do those things, and not argue about whether we should do them or not, if we can commit to doing those things, I think our community would be a lot safer.”

About vaccines, Midland Health says it has seen a slight increase in the number of people showing up to get vaccinated. And the hospital hopes to see a bigger increase now that the FDA has given the Pfizer vaccine full approval for anyone over the age of 15. 

“There is no better standard of safety and efficacy than the FDA approval,” Wilson said. “This is a remarkably safe drug, over a billion doses have been given around the world. The complication rate is infinitesimally small. There’s, literally, a thousand times greater chance of complication if you get the infection than there is from any of these vaccines. If you were hesitant to get the vaccine, now is the time.”

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