Each day at noon and 7 p.m. the Coastal Health District updates the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the eight-county district, which includes Liberty and Long counties.
But some still have questions regarding the confirmed case numbers that, at this moment, have yet to be answered.
The numbers reported by CHD are only lab-confirmed cases, according to Sally M. Silbermann, Coastal Health District public information officer.
“Our epidemiological focus is in tracking cases and containing spread, which is why our local database covers infection numbers but does not include hospitalization numbers,” Silbermann said. “Hospitals may provide information they deem appropriate about the number of hospitalized patients at their respective facilities.”
The Courier has reached out to Liberty Regional Medical Center to inquire on the numbers of patients they’ve treated and are currently treating at the hospital. A reporter has also requested information on how many LRMC patients were asked to recover at home in self-isolation, and how many have recovered from COVID-19.
An LRMC spokesperson said the hospital was unable to release that information at the present time, and Silbermann said the numbers of those who had the virus and have recovered is something the Coastal Health District is unable to track.
“Our epidemiological investigation focuses on activity histories and contact tracing to limit further spread, and we provide recommendations for patients moving forward, but we do not track patients throughout their clinical presentation,” Silbermann said.
LRMC CEO Tammy Mims said the hospital is currently focused on extending more services as the community shelter-in-place is lifted.
"Liberty Regional Medical Center is pleased to be able to reinstate the scheduling of Outpatient Imaging procedures such as MRI, CT, X-Ray, Ultrasound,” Mims said in a statement to the Courier Thursday. “Like other healthcare organizations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to make tough but appropriate decisions to postpone non-emergent services such as these for the health and safety of our patients and staff, which continues to be our number one priority."
LRMC Chief of Staff Christina McCain, M.D., said the hospital will follow guidelines from the American College of Surgeons and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses for the scheduling of elective surgeries, were previously placed on hold, as well as any new elective procedures.
“We are following the recommendations of these organizations daily to determine the proper timeline for the reopening of surgical services,” McCain said.
"We will continue to take extra safety precautions as we begin to make our service lines available once again." Mims added. "We are taking this very seriously and have instituted a number of measures to make sure it is safe for patients with minimized exposure. Continued temperature screenings at patient entrances of the hospital will remain in place. Masks are mandatory for staff and patients upon entry to the hospital if social distancing cannot be maintained. Visitation will continue to be suspended for inpatients and emergency department patients. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant about social distancing, hand washing and monitoring themselves."
Silbermann warned the virus is still widespread and encouraged people to do everything they can to prevent getting it.
- Washing your hands with soap and water regularly. If soap and water aren't readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.
- Wearing a face mask when you go out in public. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
They also encourage those at high risk of complications from COVID-19 to take extra precautions and stay away from others. Those at higher risk include - but aren't limited to folks 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, or diabetes, or those who are immunocompromised.
More information on those higher risk can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html