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Hospital CEO expects virus surge
Dale Humphrey CEO of River Park.jpg

As the untamed excitement of the Warren County A&L Fair continues this week, the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to spike immediately following, according to one local health official.

“It’s unbelievable what we are seeing right now,” said Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital CEO Dale Humphrey to members of the county Safety Committee on Monday. “Forty percent of our patients are COVID positive. We had two die today. Our ERs are overrun. We are stopping all elective procedures as of Wednesday. We are praying hard that we get through the next two weeks.”

Humphrey added that 40% is 22 patients.

County Commissioner Christy Ross asked if the number of COVID positive cases is expected to increase after the fair.

“Yes,” said Humphrey. “Sadly, yes.”

According to Warren County vaccination statistics: 

• Population: 40,454

• Doses administered: 30,603

• People vaccinated with at least one dose: 16,942 (41%)

• People fully vaccinated: 14,169 (35%)

Nearly all COVID deaths are among unvaccinated people, says Humphrey. 

“I can’t remember the exact number, but we’ve had between 850 and 890 deaths at Saint Thomas facilities since the beginning of this pandemic. Two of those deaths were fully vaccinated people who had serious co-morbidities, cancer, heart attack, they were going to die anyway, but they did catch COVID and that was the thing that finally caused their body to be overwhelmed. That’s two out of almost 900.”

Humphrey added that watching people express regret for their decision not to be vaccinated is heartbreaking. 

“Here’s what hurts more than anything is the regret that we see and hear from every human being who made a choice that cost them their life or a loved one’s life,” said Humphrey. “We see it every day of the week. It didn’t have to be this way. Our government could have done a better job with this whole process and it would have been like any other vaccine that we’ve done in the history of this nation that saves thousands of lives. We could have killed this thing in July when we had our numbers at the lowest, if we had the vaccinations.”

Commissioner Ron Lee said, “When politics got involved, the good of the nation took a backseat.”

Added Ross, “It’s powerful to hear of that much regret.”

Warren County EMS director Preston Denny said calls involving COVID positive patients is higher during this round of the pandemic than they were in 2020. 

“We are seeing way more this time than we did last time, as far as on the 911 side of it,” said Denney. “We are seeing quite a few that are COVID positive, but they aren’t all COVID positive.”

The county Safety Committee met in the Early Voting Room of Warren County Administrative Offices. While optional, social distancing and wearing facemasks was adhered to.