The number of hospitalizations due to COVID in the Jacksonville area have remained steady since the last peak of the virus. However, officials say they are taking caution because there is simply not enough known yet about the Omicron variant.
Jacksonville Memorial Hospital President and CEO Dr. Scott Boston says West Central Illinois has plateaued when it comes to cases of COVID. He says JMH has been averaging five patients hospitalized with COVID while the average across the entire Memorial Health System of hospitals has been hovering around 40.
Boston says as of this morning, JMH has two COVID-positive patients, but just a few short days ago there were six people hospitalized. He says overall the number of COVID patients at one time remains fluid at best.
“It really sort of depends from day to day. COVID has not gone away it’s still here. We get a few COVID patients testing positive every day. What we are seeing though is that these patients are mostly unvaccinated patients, and mostly younger. Younger being under the age of 50, and fortunately in most of those younger patients is not as severe.
So while we are still seeing a high prevalence of COVID in the community, we are not seeing a big spike in hospitalizations because the people that are really at risk for being hospitalized are those over the age of 50, 65, 75, and we are not seeing a big spike in those populations that are most at risk.”
During this morning’s interview, Boston said it was only a matter of time before the new Omicron variant was identified in the U.S. A matter of hours later, a person in California was confirmed as having an identified case of the variant.
Boston says the public does still need to be cautious when it comes to
Omicron, because there is so little that is known about it in these early stages.
“We don’t know if Omicron is going to be a more easily transmissible disease. We don’t know if it is going to be a more severe disease. We don’t know how well that vaccines will prevent the spread or the severity of the illness. We don’t know how well a previous COVID infection if you had Delta of Alpha variants previously. We don’t know how persistent your protection from those infections were so we don’t really have any answers on the severity of illness, vaccine immunity protection with it. So this is really where we have to think about the old standards, the social distancing, wearing the mask, and washing the hands.”
Boston says the vaccines will still provide a level of protection against the virus, but time will tell if they will be more or less effective against Omicron.