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Phoebe Sumter CEO Brandi Lunneborg reports COVID-19 numbers are growing in Sumter County and surrounding areas

AMERICUS – In her weekly facebook live update on Friday, August 6, Phoebe Sumter CEO Brandi Lunneborg stated that the numbers of COVID-19 transmission rate has “increased exponentially” over the last two weeks since her last facebook live update.

“Two weeks ago, we had two COVID patients here at Phoebe Sumter. Today, we have nine. We had as many as 11 just this week,” Lunneborg said. “In Albany, we had 24 patients just two weeks ago and now, we have 88 patients.”

Lunneborg went on to say that testing positivity rates are now over 20 percent, which is considered a high rate of community transmission by the U.S. Department of Health.

“Georgia reported over 6,000 cases in a single day across the state on August 3, which is showing that wide spread transmission is occurring in our state,” Lunneborg said. “Hospitalization rates are up and hospitals across the state, including ours, are struggling to accommodate all the volume as we try to serve all the patients in our communities who need us.”

As a result of the increase of COVID patients at Phoebe Sumter and the other hospitals in the Phoebe Healthcare System, Lunneborg stated that once again, they have had to reduce visitation hours to keep everyone safe and that non-COVID patients can still have one visitor per patient. “We’re trying to keep at least one person with a patient at all times who does not have COVID,” Lunneborg said.

She add by encouraging people to review Phoebe Sumter Medical Center’s website for visitation guidelines before they come to visit their loved ones at the hospital.

Lunneborg went on to say that in Sumter County, the vaccination rate has only moved by one percent in the last two weeks from 37 to 38 percent and that there has been a little more of an increase in the numbers of partially-vaccinated people. That number has gone up to 43 percent.

Lunneborg continued her update by stating that Phoebe Sumter will be requiring all of its staff and workers to either be vaccinated or go through weekly testing before October 4 to ensure safety at the facility. “That’s important that we move in that direction. Lots of other healthcare providers and companies are also beginning to have those conversations because of the increase in safety,” Lunneborg said. “Our healthcare heroes have worked really hard. Their safety is our top priority, as is yours, and we need to lead the way in that area,” she continued.

Lunneborg added that Phoebe is increasing its accessibility to vaccinations at all of its primary care facilities across the area and that its mobile unit will continue to provide regional access to vaccines at various events in different communities in the area. “No appointment is required for those typically so it’s a lot more convenient,” Lunneborg said. She went on to state that next Saturday, August 14, Phoebe Sumter would be holding a community vaccination event at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, which is located at 411 Cotton Avenue in Americus. The event will take place at the church from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. next Saturday, August 14. “You don’t need an appointment. You can join us for the event and receive your vaccine right there,” Lunneborg said. “If you’d prefer to schedule an appointment at primary care, you call 229-312-MYMD (6963) and we can take care of that.” Lunneborg went on to say that if any church or organization would like to schedule a vaccination event or any event in which large numbers of people would be attending where vaccinations could be offered, Phoebe would be extremely happy to do that. Lunneborg continued by stating that if any church, organization or business would like to allow its staff or employees to have a question and answer session about COVID-19 or about the vaccine, the medical staff at Phoebe Sumter would be happy to do that as well.

For those who would like to schedule such a forum, they can call Marcus Johnson at 229-931-6812.

Lunneborg also stated that Phoebe Sumter would be offering the Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for those diagnosed with COVID-19 and have high risk factors for severe illness. According to Lunneborg, it is a treatment that the hospital has been doing since January of this year. However, Lunneborg added that the treatment must begin within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. She encouraged anyone who has been exposed to COVID and is not feeling well to reach out to his/her doctor or healthcare provider and get tested. “If you meet those criteria, we may be able to get you in for that and it has been a very successful treatment, but it has to be done fairly early” Luneburg said. “Don’t delay. Give your primary care doctor a call. We do need a referral so you will have to be seen by someone before you get that.” She continued to stress that the Monoclonal Antibody Treatment is very successful, but that it needs to be done in the very early stages of the virus.

Finally, Luneburg thanked all of those who have been listening to her Facebook live updates and expressed appreciation to the community for all of its help and support during the pandemic. She finished by reminding everyone to keep masking while in large crowds and indoors where transmission is fairly possible, to stay socially distant, use good hand hygiene and to get vaccinated. “The more people we have vaccinated, the quicker this will begin to taper off and we’re all looking forward to COVID being in the rearview mirror,” Lunneborg said.

For more information and to listen to Lunneborg’s weekly updates, go to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center’s facebook page.