BOONE — Watauga Medical Center has set a new record for the number of COVID-19 patients.
Of the 32 COVID-19 patients that were at the hospital on Jan. 26, Appalachian Regional Healthcare Senior Vice President Rob Hudspeth said 26 were unvaccinated. Of the six vaccinated patients, three have a booster, according to Hudspeth.
As of Feb. 1, WMC had 28 patients in the hospital with 19 unvaccinated. Of the nine vaccinated patients, four had a booster.
On Jan. 13, 2021, WMC hit a one-day high of 31 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Also, in January 2021, the hospital had a daily average of 23 COVID-19 patients. A week after the January 2021 one-day high, WMC had a quick and steady decline of COVID-19 hospital admissions. WMC ended January 2021 with 18 COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to Hudspeth.
This January, the hospital has a daily average of 21 COVID-19 patients so far. Hudspeth said the concerning trend with this surge is COVID-19 admissions are outpacing discharges.
“We are managing this situation as best we can,” Hudspeth said. “However, I cannot begin to express how stressful this situation is for our staff.”
Of the 101 total deaths at WMC, 93 were unvaccinated, according to Hudspeth.
In January 2022, five Watauga County residents have died from COVID-19. For all five deaths, there was not a vaccination record found, according to AppHealthCare. Of the deaths in January, two were older than 75, two were between 50-64 and one was between 65-74. All 50 COVID-19 related deaths among Watauga County residents have been in those who were not vaccinated, according to AppHealthCare.
Among the Watauga County resident deaths, one was on Jan. 23, two on Jan. 22, one on Jan. 21 and one was on Jan. 13.
The surge of patients is also during an increase of COVID-19 cases in Watauga County. In one week — between Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 — AppHealthCare reported 889 COVID-19 cases in Watauga County. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 9,360 Watauga County residents have tested positive for the virus.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 31,070 Watauga County residents are vaccinated against COVID-19 with either a two dose shot or the J&J one dose shot as of Jan. 26. NCDHHS reports that 15,582 people have gotten a COVID-19 booster as of Jan. 26.
According to the NCDHHS, vaccines work to prepare a body to fight the virus if exposed. NCDHHS stated vaccines help protect someone from serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
This story was updated to reflect the dates of the Watauga County resident deaths that have occurred in January.