The data for Churchill County COVID cases continue to show elevated numbers of positive cases in the community, with several local residents being treated at Banner Churchill Community Hospital.
During the County Board of Health meeting held on Wednesday, Shannon Ernst, director of Social Services for the county reported that there are currently 241 diagnosed active cases of COVID-19 in the community and 55 deaths have been attributed to COVID since March of 2020. In total, 3,101 cases have been diagnosed since March 2020, with 201 of those in long-term care facilities, 183 attached to NAS Fallon, and 240 testing positive at the Fallon Tribe.
The test positivity rate as of Wednesday was 16.87 percent in Churchill County. The state was at 11.3 percent positivity rate, however that data is collected over a 14-day period with a 7-day lag.
In general, Ernst said Churchill County positives are trending down since the spike in July, but slowly. Last November during the height of COVID, there was an average of 75 people testing positive daily, and the highest during this recent spike has been 64 positives in one day.
Additionally, the hospital is currently at 125% capacity, and on Tuesday night they were waiting for four people to be transported out of the community to other area hospitals, due to a lack of beds. There was one person on a ventilator and two in the ICU.
According to Rob Carnahan, CEO at Banner Churchill, the hospital is a 25-bed facility with four ICU beds. Over last weekend there were a total of six patients in the ICU. “Obviously this makes it very challenging to staff those beds. To put it in perspective a large hospital may have 50 ICU beds and then to ask them to go to 150% capacity would then put that hospital at 75 patients which would be truly challenging for them too. It is all put in perspective,” he said.
Banner is currently running between two and three ventilators each day.
Carnahan said he will continue to update the community and appreciates the work being done at the hospital. “I wish I could give people a tour of our staff working super hard to keep patients well. All area hospitals are working at capacity and the staff is getting so tired and I certainly feel bad for them,” he said.
As of September 18, Ernst said there were a total of 9,443 doses of the COVID vaccine administered, with 44.19 percent of the community age 12 and over being fully vaccinated. Ernst said the county now has the third dose available. “This is not a booster,” she said. “The third dose is for those who are moderate to severely compromised systems.” The county is still waiting on confirmation as to when or if boosters will be provided. Moderna is also looking at creating a flu shot that has a COVID booster in one shot.
She said originally when the vaccine came out the county was seeing 700 people a week for the shot, and they are now administering only 30.