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Kingman Regional Medical Center: COVID variant taking a toll in Kingman

As of Friday, July 16 there were 34 patients hospitalized at Kingman Regional Medical Center with the coronavirus. (KRMC file photo)

As of Friday, July 16 there were 34 patients hospitalized at Kingman Regional Medical Center with the coronavirus. (KRMC file photo)

KINGMAN – Dr. Ryan Swapp of Kingman Regional Medical Center says reluctance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine could result in a full hospital, full ICU and the hospital “straining our resources.”

In a COVID-19 update posted to the KRMC Facebook page Saturday, July 17, Julya Walters with the Public Relations team said in the past week, the hospital has done 631 tests for COVID resulting in 73 positive results.

As of Friday, there were 34 patients hospitalized from the virus.

The 30-day rolling positivity rate currently sits at 7.7%, which has resulted in KRMC transitioning to Level 2 visitor restrictions as that figure sits between 5-10%.

That means visiting hours are now 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with non-isolation patients allowed one visitor per day.

“A lot of people have asked why are we seeing it here,” Swapp said of a rise in COVID-19 cases. “It can probably be attributed to our relatively low vaccination rate.”

About a third of county residents have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination, according to Swapp, a pathologist and medical director of the clinical laboratory. That figure is a bit higher, approximately 38%, for those who have received a single dose.

“In the news and in other places we’ve seen lots of mentions of these variants,” Swapp said of the increase in cases. “And what these variants are are essentially slightly genetically different strains of the virus which are, in this case, this delta variant, it’s just a lot more contagious. It’s not necessarily more lethal, more deadly or causes more harm, but it’s just more contagious.” But he said several studies have shown that the vaccine covers not only the delta and alpha variants, but others as well.

Walters noted some within the community have been reluctant to receive the vaccine due to “safety concerns.”

“This vaccine has been developed and scrutinized more heavily than any other vaccine at any other point in the world,” he said. “The data is out there; it’s transparent and it’s excellent.”

He did note the temporary concern with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over blood clots, which ended up being less of a threat than originally thought. He said the FDA temporarily pulled it out of an “abundance of caution” before later reinstating it.

“It just shows that they are really watching this very closely, they take it very seriously and at any hint of something being unsafe they will act,” Swapp said. “The data has just been very good so I really don’t take those safety concerns as being credible.”

Walters said the hospital is nearing capacity and that a continued surge could impact resources and in-patient bed availability.

“The delta variant is very contagious and it’s going to continue to circulate,” Swapp said. “We really have two options; we’ll either continue to get COVID infections or we can get the vaccine until enough of us have it that it spreads less. Until that happens, we’ll probably continue to see what we’re currently seeing, a full hospital, a full ICU, straining our resources to provide other services to the community.”

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