Virtua says it’s more prepared for influx of COVID-19 patients from second wave

By KYW Newsradio 1060

SOUTH JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — Hospitals in South Jersey are bracing for whatever comes from this next wave of the coronavirus. Virtua Health said its staff has learned a lot since March, and the hospital network is well-prepared to tackle COVID-19 this time around.

“What we’re seeing now is that the number of patients getting hospitalized with COVID is increasing relatively rapidly,” said Dr. Reg Blaber, Virtua vice president and chief clinical officer.

He said people aren’t dying at the same rate as they were in the spring when the pandemic first hit. However, people were also dying at home from heart attacks and strokes during those first few months because they were afraid to come to the hospital.

Blaber said that can’t happen anymore.

“We truly have tried to set up in each of our five hospitals two hospitals within each hospital — a hospital that’s for patients with COVID and a hospital for patients that don’t have COVID,” he said. “We have COVID ICUs and non-COVID ICUs. And this is extremely important so that people can feel safe to come to the hospital, even if they’re coming for a non-COVID problem.”

Some new treatments have shown promise for overcoming the virus, and a new FDA-approved therapeutic is cause for optimism.

“We have a lot more tools in our toolbox to take care of these patients and help them to get better outcomes,” he said.

Blaber said Pfizer’s vaccine progress is great news as well, but it will be a while before that is readily available.

“It’s not just one vaccine we have to take,” Blaber added. “We have to take two vaccines. One on day one, and then one on day 21.”

And for that reason, he said, people should avoid large indoor gatherings for Thanksgiving this year and other holiday get-togethers.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has said the same, urging residents not to fall for COVID-19 fatigue and ignore CDC recommendations.

On Tuesday, the state reported another 3,877 new positive cases of COVID-19. And, new restrictions go into effect on Thursday, limiting indoor dining options and prohibiting indoor school sports activities.

While live on the air with KYW Newsradio’s Ian Bush, Gov. Phil Murphy said he hopes these restrictions will be enough to slow the spread, as the next four to six months will be a “tough stretch.”

Listen to the full interview below: