Elective surgeries that require an overnight hospital stay are being halted for the time being, Beebe Healthcare announced Monday. The pause starts Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Beebe has a hospital in Lewes and other health care facilities around Sussex County. Elective surgeries are generally defined as those that aren't emergencies demanding an immediate procedure.
The hospital said in a statement that it is taking this step "out of an abundance of caution, due to an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations."
Both hospitalizations and cases have been on the rise in Sussex County.
On July 30, there were 12 people hospitalized with COVID in the county, per state data. On Aug. 12, that number was 35. About a month later it's at 102 hospitalizations, with 17 of those critical.
At one point in June, the seven-day average of positive COVID tests in Sussex was about 1 percent, according to state data. The most recent seven-day average of positive tests was 12.3 percent. (That's not the same as the percentage of people testing positive, which is higher, as people may be tested more than once. But it shows the trend.)
On average, 13.6 percent of people who got COVID tests in Sussex were positive on July 30; by Aug. 12, it was up to an average of 22.4 percent. On Sept. 10, it was 37 percent.
Beebe said more than 95% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
Beebe also said the situation is fluid and it will begin elective surgeries again if need be. It will contact patients whose surgeries are being put on hold.
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The hospital "strongly urges everyone to get vaccinated," saying the vaccine is free and readily available, and the delta variant of COVID causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms. It may also cause more severe illness in unvaccinated people than earlier versions, according to the CDC.
“As we build the level of vaccination nationwide, we must also use all the prevention strategies available, including masking indoors in public places, to stop transmission and stop the pandemic,” David Tam, president and CEO of Beebe Healthcare, said in a statement.