Glen Cove Hospital Medical Director On COVID Resurgence

Glen Cove Hospital. (Photo courtesy Antony-22 via Wikimedia Commons)

On Aug. 2, the New York State Department of Health reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

This illustration, created at the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology
exhibited by coronaviruses.
(Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons)

“The latest data, from August 2, shows hospital admissions increased 22 percent compared with the previous week and are now at 0.6 per 100,000 residents on average, which translates to more than 100 admissions per day,” a press release from the Department of Health stated. “Reported cases are also 55 percent higher than the previous week, for an average of 824 reported cases per day across the state. However, it’s important to note that most cases are not reported, so hospitalizations are a more reliable indicator. There are currently no concerns with hospital bed capacity.”

A surgical mask (left) and an FFP1 mask (right) often used to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Photo courtesy via Wikimedia Commons)

“All viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), change over time,” stated the press release from the CDC. “These viruses with changes are called ‘variants.’ These changes can affect how contagious a virus is, how well it responds to treatment, and how severely it affects people. Last week, a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 called BA.2.86 was detected in samples from people in Denmark and Israel. At least two cases have been identified in the United States. This variant is notable because it has multiple genetic differences from previous versions of SARS-CoV-2.”
The CDC added that based on what it knows now, existing tests used to detect COVID-19 and medications used to treat COVID-19 appear to be effective with this variant.
“BA.2.86 may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously had COVID-19 or who have received COVID-19 vaccines,” stated the press release. “Scientists are evaluating the effectiveness of the forthcoming, updated COVID-19 vaccine. CDC’s current assessment is that this updated vaccine will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization. At this point, there is no evidence that this variant is causing more severe illness. That assessment may change as additional scientific data are developed.”

A rapid COVID test.
(Photo courtesy Carlosjvives via Wikimedia Commons)

The Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot spoke with Glen Cove Hospital Medical Director Dr. Brad Sherman about the local impact of this new variant and increase in cases at Glen Cove Hospital.
Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: What are you seeing at Glen Cove Hospital?
A: Dr. Sherman: We have seen a slight uptick in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID. Most of those patients have come in for some other reason and are testing positive for COVID, not necessarily brought in for COVID. So it looks like so far, this strain is a little bit less virulent, deadly as prior strains in itself. But it does look like an increase in the number of cases are coming up. And that is not a large increase, but we have seen a noticeable increase.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: Let’s say someone gets hospitalized for the flu or chest pains, or any other ailment, what would happen if they tested positive for COVID?
A: Dr. Sherman: They would get isolated and anybody who goes to see them in the hospital has to wear a mask and wear protective equipment like we did before to prevent the spread, more than anything else. And then if they have symptoms, they are treated for COVID… We do encourage people that are feeling sick or having trouble breathing to come to the hospital to get evaluated. I don’t want people to think that just because it’s less virulent, that there aren’t people sick enough to require hospitalization or emergency treatment.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: Is Glen Cove Hospital using the PAXLOVID treatment that was developed?
A: Dr. Sherman: Yes. It depends on what the circumstances are, but PAXLOVID is one of the treatment options. We’re also using Remdesivir. There are other options, there are other medications out there too.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: Would you say people who have been vaccinated are becoming less sick than people who are not vaccinated?
A: Dr. Sherman: It appears that vaccine immunity does wane over time, so it depends on when they were vaccinated, what their immune status is, so it’s a little hard to say. Historically, people who have been vaccinated tend to be less sick, and are certainly less hospitalized and less people die.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: Anything different with this surge than you have seen in the past?
A: Dr. Sherman: I think it’s too early to say. I think in general as the weather gets colder and people are congregating inside in closer quarters, that’s when we see more spread, even with flu. The number of influenza cases was lower because people were socializing less and wearing masks. And now we’re seeing less mask wearing, people congregating and people going back to their regular activities. That may cause more of a spread as the weather gets colder and people are closer together.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: As kids go back to school and people congregate more inside, do you have any advice for anybody who might be concerned?
A: Dr. Sherman: I’d say for one that they should absolutely get the flu vaccine. There’s a lot of people who stayed away from the flu vaccine because they were masking and now without that masking, the flu can be deadly, particularly if you’re older or you have medical problems. That would be one, and two would be that if people are feeling sick, they shouldn’t go out in public, congregating with other people or family members. They should stay isolated, protect themselves. Even if it’s not COVID, they may have some other viral infection that could spread easily to someone else.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: Are you seeing any new symptoms with this strain?
A: Dr. Sherman: I haven’t seen anything new. Most of the people who get COVID these days tend to have upper respiratory infections, a lot of sinusitis and nasal stuffiness, cold-like symptoms. There’s a lot of fatigue. But I think that’s not different than anything we’ve seen in the past.

Q: Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot: Are you seeing any long-COVID in patients?
A: Dr. Sherman: I’m not seeing more patients with long-COVID. There are a percentage of patients, a low percentage, that have symptoms that persist for long periods of time. I haven’t seen very many patients with traditional respiratory complications from COVID that persisted for a long time in my own practice. I’m not saying it’s not there, but I think the numbers are lower than people think.

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