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Local COVID-19 situation seems to be stabilizing

coronavirus researcher
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The good news from Augusta Health: COVID prevalence, positivity rate and hospitalizations have decreased from their peaks a few weeks ago.

As  a result, the hospital’s internal modeling and projections indicate we may have stabilized and plateaued.

But we may not be out of the woods yet.

Some of the projections still indicate another possible surge in the next week because of a lower community vaccination rate. Thanks to community response, vaccinations have increased over the past two weeks, and the increased number of vaccinated people has begun to influence community spread and numbers.

“Again, we are cautiously optimistic, and are beginning to plan to gradually re-open services during October – so it’s not time to ease up on preventive measures,” a hospital release said Monday.

Inside the numbers

The current inpatient COVID-19 census at Augusta Health is 47, but overall census is quite high at 205.

Two COVID patients passed away over the weekend. About 20 percent of the COVID-19 patients are critical care/ICU level patients.

Over the 48 hours preceding 9 a.m. on Monday, there were 124 new positive COVID-19 cases diagnosed through Augusta Health testing sites.

For convenience, drive-through COVID testing at Augusta Health’s Waynesboro Urgent Care on Lew Dewitt Boulevard will be open until 9 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

Help to continue to slow the spread and lower the projections: Please vaccinate, wear masks indoors even if vaccinated, wash hands frequently and stay socially distant from others when possible. COVID vaccinations are the still the most effective and lasting way to prevent COVID infections in our community, and the best defense against serious illness and death.

Vaccination eligibility

Augusta Health is vaccinating everyone age 12 and older who lives, works or goes to school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for individuals age 18 and over. Pfizer vaccine is authorized for individuals age 12 and older; a parent or guardian must be present to consent to vaccination of those under the age of 18.

There are now two groups of previously vaccinated people who can receive a third-dose COVID-19 booster shots.

The first group, approved several weeks ago is:

  • Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised (no proof of a medical condition is required at this time); and who
  • Have already received two doses of either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine; and who
  • Received their second dose of vaccine more than 28 days ago.

The second, recently approved group is:

  • Those age 65 and over, or
  • Those ages 18-64 with an underlying medical condition, or
  • Those who live in congregate settings such as long-term care facilities or shelters, or
  • Those who work in high-risk occupations, who
  • Have already received two doses of PFIZER vaccine only, and who
  • Received their second dose more than six months ago.

Appointments are required for all booster shots and are available on vaccinate.augustahealth.com. Those who meet criteria for the second group but received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not eligible for boosters at this time. We anticipate the FDA and CDC will evaluate additional rounds of vaccination for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson again, and will be prepared for that approval when it is given.

The criteria for the two types of vaccine boosters can be confusing; if you have questions about eligibility, please call Augusta Health’s Vaccination Call Center at (540) 332-5122.

Please bring COVID Vaccination Record Card to the booster appointment.

Vaccinations in primary care offices

Vaccinations for COVID-19 continue in all Augusta Medical Group primary care offices. Patients who prefer to receive a vaccination from their personal physician should contact their doctor’s office to be scheduled into the next available vaccination appointment block.

Community-based clinics

This week, Augusta Health is sending vaccination teams to local long-term care facilities and homeless shelters to assist with the vaccination of residents and staff at those sites.

Community organizations that would like to partner with Augusta Health for a Vaccination Clinic can contact VaccinationTaskForce@augustahealth.com for more information on the requirements.

Large on-campus vaccination clinics

Appointments are preferred for clinics. Walk-ins are welcome.

Go to vaccinate.augustahealth.com to view the links and schedule an appointment. Information about new clinics, the links and the criteria for each link, are posted as available. On-campus clinics for the remainder of this week are:

Tuesday: Third-dose Booster Clinic. The clinic will run from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Please verify criteria for one of the two approved populations for boosters. Pfizer booster available for both populations; Moderna booster only approved for immunocompromised population. Please bring Vaccination Record Card or record of previous vaccination. The link is open on vaccinate.augustahealth.com.

Wednesday: After school/after work clinic hours for those are unable to come during the day. The clinic will run from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Walk-ins welcome until 6 p.m. This is a dual Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson clinic. Anyone age 12 and older may receive Pfizer vaccine; Johnson & Johnson is a one-dose vaccine available to those age 18 and older and administered if available. The link is open on vaccinate.augustahealth.com.

Thursday: After school/after work clinic hours for those are unable to come during the day. The clinic will run from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Walk-ins welcome until 6 p.m. This is a dual Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson clinic. Anyone age 12 and older may receive Pfizer vaccine; Johnson & Johnson is a one-dose vaccine available to those age 18 and older and administered if available. The link is open on vaccinate.augustahealth.com.

Friday: Third-dose Booster Clinic. The clinic will run from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Please verify criteria for one of the two approved populations for boosters. Pfizer booster available for both populations; Moderna booster only approved for immunocompromised population. Please bring Vaccination Record Card or record of previous vaccination. The link is open on vaccinate.augustahealth.com.

Vaccination Call Center

Not everyone has access to the internet. Others just have questions. For assistance, call Augusta Health’s Vaccination Call Center at (540) 332-5122. The Call Center is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm to answer questions and help to schedule vaccination appointments.

Homebound patients are being vaccinated through a pilot program with Central Shenandoah EMS. Contact the Vaccination Call Center for more information.