November was by far Douglas County’s worst month of the pandemic, according to data from the Tri-County Health Department. More people were infected, more people died and more people went to the …
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November was by far Douglas County’s worst month of the pandemic, according to data from the Tri-County Health Department. More people were infected, more people died and more people went to the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.
“By the most serious metrics we track, November was a worse month than the peaks in April,” Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County, said in a meeting with Douglas County commissioners Dec. 8.
The highest month for hospitalizations in the spring, which was when the first wave of the virus struck, was April, and there were 72 hospitalized cases in Douglas County. In November, there were 171.
In November, 56 people in Douglas County died with the virus, according to the coroner's office. In April, the spring month with the highest death count, 34 died. As of Dec. 11, 145 people from Douglas County had died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to Tri-County.
That trend is also playing out in senior living facilities, nursing homes and other similar businesses. These facilities are facing their largest outbreaks yet, according to state data.
There are likely several reasons that the pandemic worsened in November, including people getting together for holidays like Halloween, Douglas said.
“Things (are) a lot more open than during the stay-at-home phase. (There’s) cooler weather, so it’s less easy to be outdoors,” he said as other possible reasons. “(There is) COVID fatigue on many personal prevention measures.”
The first half of December brought a slight improvement in statistics with a downturn in hospitalizations and cases per 100,000 residents.
Hospitalization rates in early December had gone slightly down with 68% of ICU capacity and 78% of inpatient beds in the county filled.
“It is likely that some of the unpleasant restrictions of the higher levels on the dial are helping out,” Douglas said, referring to the state’s color-coded tool for COVID-19 restrictions.
Douglas County is currently in level red, the second most restrictive level. County commissioners are working on a plan to have some of those restrictions, like a ban on indoor dining, lifted.
Data from the coroner's office shows that 41 people died with COVID-19 in the first two weeks of December. There is often a delay between the cases counted by the coroner and those included in Tri-County’s public data.
In a statement released through a spokesperson, commissioners said they are hopeful that by encouraging “public health practices and personal responsibility,” they can reduce future hospitalized cases and deaths.
“Sadly, November COVID statistics materialized as anticipated by public health officials nationwide, including in Douglas County,” according to the statement. “We recognize the devastating impacts this virus has had on lives and livelihoods for the past nine months. We mourn the loss of every life. We continue to monitor the data daily from Tri-County Health as we have for the duration of this pandemic.”
As of Dec. 11, there were at least 1,950 new cases and at least 24 additional hospitalized cases so far this month.
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