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Cleveland Co. officials in ‘dire’ situation with COVID-19 due to lack of beds, drastic rise in hospitalizations and deaths

COVID-19 is having a critical impact on the Cleveland County community and its health care systems.
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 1:08 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 10:02 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Leaders say COVID-19 has become a dire situation in Cleveland County, so much so that officials are providing information about the virus’s impact in a joint press conference Monday.

COVID-19 is having a critical impact on the Cleveland County community and its health care systems. Cleveland County remains one of the highest counties in the state for the number of new COVID-19 positive cases per 100,000 people.

On Monday, Sept. 20, community leaders joined Cleveland County Health Director, Tiffany Hanson, and Dr. Inga Kish, who is Chief Medical Director for Atrium Health’s facilities in Cleveland, Kings Mountain and Lincoln, for an update.

“As you’ve heard from our medical experts, Cleveland County is in a crisis,” said Doug Bridges, chair of Cleveland County Board of Commissioners.

Health leaders say the vaccination rate is relatively low in Cleveland County, and, over the past five weeks, there have been nearly 40 COVID-related deaths, with the average age being 66 years old. Officials say that only five of the people who died were vaccinated.

About 40 percent of the beds at Atrium Health Cleveland are occupied by COVID-19 positive patients. Cleveland County is averaging about 78 COVID hospitalizations per day, and 1,399 COVID cases within the past 14 days.

“Community leaders and health care workers are committed to helping stop the spread of this deadly disease and help end this pandemic thus, allowing our communities to return to the things they love most,” a county press release said.

In the presentation released by Cleveland County, the county says there are 35 beds in the emergency department, and COVID patients waiting for beds are being treated in the emergency department.

In ICU, many of the patients are requiring ventilators and, in some instances, two people have been treated in the same room due to lack of space, and the majority of the ICU patients tested positive for COVID-19.

“This has been the most difficult encounter, endeavor, experience that anyone in healthcare has taken part of or experienced,” said Dr. Inga Kish, Chief Medical Director Atrium Health Cleveland.

According to health officials, hospitals will start double-bunking spouses.

Hospitals are also having a shortage of IV pain medications, sedatives and respiratory supplies.

“For less critical patients, we at the moment have to decompress a bit and divert or redistribute those patients to another facility,” Dr. Kish said.

As the surge continues, leaders are calling on the community to take care of each other.

“Our community has come together in the past in times of crisis, and we must do it again,” Bridges said.

Cleveland County Government, The City of Shelby, The City of Kings Mountain, The Town of Boiling Springs, The Cleveland County Board of Education, Cleveland Community College and Atrium Health Cleveland were involved in the presentation.

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