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Some optimistic COVID news...for a change

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 5:10 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - There’s some optimism as local hospital staffing is on the rise, COVID hospitalizations are currently heading down, and a new treatment is on its way.

From Monday to Wednesday, COVID hospitalizations in St. Lawrence County dropped by 14 - That’s almost a 45% decrease. Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center also seems like it’s heading in a better direction.

“We’re still seeing really high patient volumes in the emergency department and inpatient department, but our COVID numbers and COVID patients have decreased some,” said Leslie DiStefano, Samaritan marketing director.

The hospital is maintaining its bed capacity as well and is improving on staffing.

“Improving it by 28 percent, looking at open positions and looking at where we are now, so we’re really pleased with those things,” said DiStefano.

As for Lewis County Health System, which paused delivering babies in September due to staffing issues, that ward will remain closed as it still seek nurses, a spokesperson said.

However, the spokesperson says sign-on incentives have been successful in getting some specialized registered nurses.

And there is hope on the horizon as the FDA announces approval for the first pill that treats COVID.

Pfizer’s pill, Paxlovid, has proven to be 88 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations in high-risk patients.

It’s the first COVID treatment that you can take at home, freeing up hospital beds.

“Hopefully, with this approval, as long as we have some support and some supplies, it’s something we’d welcome to the community,” said DiStefano.

In the meantime, one licensed practical nurse in Watertown is urging the public to do better with mask wearing.

“I’ve walked through stores and I see so many people without masks and it’s frightening. It’s one of the easiest ways, along with vaccinations, to help protect other people as well as ourselves,” said Shawna Galloway. “We’re going on two years of fighting this and it’s not letting up. It’s gaining steam.”

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