Madison County health officials talk resources, COVID-19 in kids

JACKSON, Tenn. — With COVID-19 case numbers continuing to rise, the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department, West Tennessee Healthcare officials, and government leaders are talking about the growing problem.

Nurse helps patient suffering from the COVID-19 delta variant.

West Tennessee Healthcare reports 144 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized as of Wednesday morning. Of those, 36 are on ventilators and 48 are in the ICU.

“The delta variant is a much more deadly virus. We have experienced that once the patient gets on a ventilator, there’s about 90% chance they’re not going to make it,” said Jackie Taylor, with West Tennessee Healthcare.

The Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department reports there are over 2,000 active COVID-19 cases in the county.

The department says they are seeing an average of 123 positive cases a day, which is up 16 from the previous week.

Health officials say they are seeing the highest numbers in Madison County since the pandemic began.

“It’s a very dangerous situation, and I don’t suspect that it’s going to get better anytime soon,” said Amy Garner, Chief Compliance and Communications Officer for West Tennessee Healthcare.

With the cases rising, staff and spacing remain an issue.

“As we take more resources for COVID-patients, it’s less resources for other care,” Taylor said.

“We’ll have to start allocating resources. You know, deciding who would be the most successful patient to survive. Most likely to survive will get those resources. We’ll have to make those, we’re at the rod of making those decisions,” Taylor said.

Concerns for the number of kids testing positive are growing, as 838 kids in between the ages of 5 and 18-years-old have tested positive since Aug. 1.

“We want to decrease the spread in the school system so that we can keep kids in school, and keep them learning. So our focus right now is on the school age positive test that we get,” said Kim Tedford, Regional Director for the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department.

To do their part in mitigating the virus among kids, the Jackson-Madison County School System implemented a mask mandate that begins this week.

So far, 36 parents have opted their child out.

The school district is trying to keep their kids in in-person learning. However, if the schools are significantly impacted from COVID-19 isolation or quarantine, they say they will have to take more serious measures.

“We will take steps to take advantage of the state waivers to close a classroom or if warranted to close a school. Remote learning would be used, should either a classroom or a school need to be closed,” said Greg Hammond, Chief of Staff and Information for JMCSS.

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