HIGH COUNTRY — Watauga Medical Center is nearing a pandemic high of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19.
As of Sept. 15, WMC has 23 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The pandemic high is 28 people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 at one time, which was in December before vaccines were readily available to the public. WMC had zero COVID-19 patients in May.
"The continuing rising numbers are cause for concern," said said Rob Hudspeth, senior vice president of system advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
Of the 23 patients, 16 of them are not vaccinated. On Sept. 10, WMC had three COVID-19 patients die, Hudspeth said. The hospital serves community members from Watauga, Avery and Ashe, as well as other neighboring counties.
As of Sept. 20, Avery County Health Department reported 117 new positive cases of COVID-19 within a seven-day period, an increase of 30 cases from its report seven days earlier, with a total of 15 deaths in the county having been attributed to the virus since August 1, according to department statistics.