Pre-holiday COVID spike worries Glens Falls Hospital doctors

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GLENS FALLS – Before holiday gatherings even begin, Glens Falls Hospital says it’s seeing the most COVID patients it’s seen since the start of the pandemic. Doctors have one clear message – get vaccinated now.

The hospital is currently past capacity.

"We typically staff for about 135 patients, but over the last several weeks, we’re consistently running greater than 200," said Dr. Howard Fritz, the chief medical officer of Glens Falls Hospital.

Of those more than 200 in-patients at the hospital, 47 have COVID. Fritz says the sickest patients are not vaccinated.

"We still have eight patients in our ICU, only one of whom is vaccinated. We have three of those eight who are on ventilators. None of those individuals are vaccinated," said Fritz.

Medical professionals are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID ahead of the holidays.

Fritz says he hears a lot of people say if the vaccine is so great, why are people that are vaccinated in the hospital? He says no vaccine is perfect, but it could save your life.

"Clearly, the statistics show that you are far less likely to become ill if you’re vaccinated. Your duration of symptoms if you become infected while vaccinated is shorter," said Fritz.

Some people may have been putting off getting a booster. However, go ahead and get it before any gatherings.
"As the immunity wanes, and as this much stronger variant is just ripping through our community, to have the highest level of protection possible is key," said Hillary Alycon, an infectious disease specialist at Glens Falls Hospital.

The hospital fears for what’s ahead heading into Christmas and New Year’s.

"As hard as the last two weeks have been, I think that the next six weeks will probably be the hardest that we’ve seen in the pandemic thus far," said Alycon.

If you are unvaccinated, doctors say you should tell your guests or host before that Thanksgiving dinner.

"Give them the opportunity to know that, and make their own decision," said Fritz. "It may influence whether or not they attend."

Fritz says right now, the goal is to reduce large populations of unvaccinated people, because that reduces the chance for the virus to mutate.