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New high for COVID-19 patients at WGMC

Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center has more COVID-19 patients than at any point since the outbreak started, according to Dr. Ken Horlander, pulmonary physician with Emory Clark-Holder Clinic.

Horlander said Friday morning that there were currently 39 COVID-19 patients at WGMC, plus some others under investigation. He said a couple were on ventilators. 

The increase in hospitalizations paired with a significant bump in total cases on Friday. Troup County recorded 61 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Troup County now has 922 total cases and continues to see cases spike over the last two weeks. 

That number reflects total cases, not active cases. Troup County is averaging 38 new cases per day since June 7.

GDPH reported a 25th death in Troup County on Friday as well. The number of deaths had actually decreased by one to 24 on Thursday, as GDPH is in the midst of updating its system and removing any duplicate entries, according to District 4 Public Information Officer Hayla Folden. A 78-year-old African American male was the latest person in Troup County to die related to COVID-19, according to GDPH.

The number of people hospitalized in Troup County during the duration of COVID-19 also increased by six, from 103 to 109, on Friday. Horlander asked that people in Troup County take the virus seriously and take the correct measures to stop the spread.

“My personal plea is to treat everyone as if they might have coronavirus,” Horlander said. “We have a lot of asymptomatic carriers out there, and we have a lot of cases in LaGrange and Troup County.”

Horlander said wearing a mask is important, not only to protect yourself but to protect others from catching the virus.

“People should realize we wear a mask to protect ourselves a little bit, but it’s really to protect other people,” he said. “People should consider themselves as possibly a carrier. We have asymptomatic carriers. You can have it and not know it.”

He said if you’re not wearing a mask, you might be doing more harm than you realize.

“If you are not wearing a mask, you are potentially hurting other people,” Horlander said.

He said that he knows some people are doing elbow bumps or during alternatives to hand shaking, but at this time he can’t recommend any touching. 

“My personal opinion is don’t touch at all,” Horlander said. “People like to bump the elbows and bump fists and stuff like that. No, don’t touch.”

Horlander said local physicians have been using steroids since the beginning to try to treat the virus, and recent studies have acknowledged that steroids might reduce the severity of COVID-19. He said the hospital has a good supply of personal protective equipment and said everyone at the hospital is wearing a mask and taking every precaution when going in and out of rooms. 

“I feel like we’re doing good on [PPE] … but as far as people’s stress levels and stuff like that, it is stressful taking care of people that you are seeing getting sicker,” he said. 

He said doctors and nurses do worry about catching COVID-19, but he believes anyone on staff who does catch it probably caught it somewhere in the community since the hospital has taken such aggressive measures to stop the spread. 

Horlander also said it’s important that people continue to eat well and exercise. He said in most cases healthy people are not getting severe cases of COVID-19. As of Friday, 17 of the 25 deaths for Troup County were in people with an underlying condition. He said being overweight is also often a contributing factor to severe cases of COVID-19.  

“People need to eat right and exercise,” he said “I believe personally that will help you not get as sick if you catch coronavirus.”

Horlander also wanted to remind everyone that it’s safe to go to their doctor’s office. He said they continue to see patients who are canceling needed appointments or don’t go to the doctor when something is wrong due to fears of catching COVID-19.

He said people should call their doctor’s office in non-emergency situations, as telemedicine and other options might be available. However, he said the emergency room is also prepared to treat patients who need to be seen.