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Cone Health COVID beds filling, recommends small holiday gatherings

Cone Health, owner of Alamance Regional Medical Center, says it could fill beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in the coming months and recommends small holiday gatherings and possible government action.

“The COVID-19 patient census (on Wednesday) is 103. If current transmission rates of the virus continue, projections are that this number will increase to over 150 by year-end and grow much higher in the new year,” according to a company news release. “The health network is asking the public to take immediate steps to slow the spread of the virus.”

There are 31 Alamance County residents now getting hospital treatment for COVID-19, according to the county health department. Cone Health has hospitals and practices in Alamance, Guilford, Rockingham and Forsyth counties. 

More: Alamance reports 6,480 cases, 111 deaths as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Green Valley Hospital, Cone Health’s COVD-19-only hospital, has capacity for 116 patients. There is room for coronavirus patients at other Cone hospitals, but if projections are borne out there is a high risk of stressing that capacity in the next few months.

"We are quickly reaching the point where governments will need to consider imposing more restrictions," said Cone Health CEO Terry Akin. 

There have been big increases in COVID-19 cases after every holiday, according to Dr. Bruce Swords, Cone Health, and large indoor family celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas are perfect conditions for the virus to spread and often include older family members or relatives with health issues that make the virus more dangerous to them.

Among the hospital network’s recommendations like washing hands, wearing masks and keeping distance from people outside your household, is limiting gatherings to just people who live together.