COVID hospitalizations down in Albany, younger patients making up more of new cases

·3 min read

Jun. 5—ALBANY — Two trends, one old and one of newer origin, are being observed by medical personnel at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and they underscore the importance of being vaccinated for those with serious medical conditions and younger individuals.

In May, the average age of patients hospitalized was below 50. And patients with six medical conditions accounted for the vast majority of seriously ill patients, according to Dr. Kathy Hudson, Phoebe's chief medical officer.

"During the months of May and April, 83 percent of patients had one or more pre-existing conditions," Hudson said during a Friday news conference featuring health officials and community leaders. "They either had obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, COPD or asthma.

"It is imperative (that) if you are 12 or older and living with one of these conditions that you get vaccinated as soon as possible."

While older Americans are more open to being vaccinated, that has not been the case among younger adults.

About 86 percent of individuals 65 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 75 percent are fully vaccinated. For all U.S. adults ages 18 and older, only 63 percent have received at least one shot and 52 percent are fully vaccinated.

"We're starting to see a trend of younger patients hospitalized with COVID," Hudson said. "During May, the average age of patients hospitalized was 48.8. That was the lowest of any month since the pandemic began and slightly lower than what we saw in March and April."

On Friday, 19 patients were hospitalized in Albany with COVID-19 and two at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus.

"That shows the infections and serious illness are down," Hudson said. "It also shows vaccines are working."

However, within the previous 24 hours, the system had four new admissions.

"That shows things can change quickly and the virus is still spreading in our community," Hudson said. "We're hoping the Memorial Day weekend and summer activity do not cause an increase in our cases, but it will be another week or two before we see a Memorial Day surge. We're very optimistic this won't happen, but it's too early to say."

Georgia is lagging behind a number of states in terms of vaccinated residents, with 40 percent having at least one dose and 34 percent fully vaccinated, and Dougherty County is behind the state average with 32 percent having received at least one dose and 28 percent fully vaccinated, Hudson said.

Phoebe has administered more than 56,000 doses, and while mass vaccination sites have been closed, the health system is still giving the shots at its primary, urgent and community care facilities. The hospital also has mobile units that are being used for vaccination clinics in the area.

The vaccines are available at the Dougherty County Health Department from 8 a.m.-noon on Monday and Thursday and from 1-5 p.m. on Tuesday. Testing for the novel coronavirus is available from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the Albany Exchange Club Fairgrounds, 810 S. Westover Blvd.

Individuals who show up for vaccines are not being turned away if they arrive at other times, as long as personnel are available to administer shots, Vamella Lovett, director of the health department in Dougherty County, said.

Residents can schedule a vaccination appointment through Phoebe at (229) 312-MYMD (6963), or through the health department at (229) 638-6424 or (229) 352-6567.

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