COVID-19 Hospitalizations Improving, but Remain High Despite Vaccine Rollout Members News February 4, 2021 Despite daily hospitalizations declining and tens of thousands more members of our community receiving the vaccine, Geisinger continues to feel the strains of the pandemic and asks for patience during the vaccination process. While COVID-19 activity continues to be high in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, Geisinger is seeing fewer positive COVID-19 tests, lower positivity rates and a reduction in overall hospitalizations, but our communities remain at levels we saw in late November. Over the past two weeks, we’ve averaged about 200 positive COVID-19 tests per day, with an average positivity rate of about 14%.That is down from an average of more than 400 new positive tests per day in December and a positivity rate as high as 23%.This past week, we reached the milestone of having fewer than 200 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, getting as low as 185 earlier this week.Our previous peak was more than 350 in late December. “We are still in a tenuous place, so even a small increase in hospitalizations can put us into a troublesome capacity situation that jeopardizes care for COVID and non-COVID patients,” said Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D., Geisinger’s president and chief executive officer. “Despite the vaccination rollout underway, we can’t lose sight of the fact we’re still facing challenges in our hospitals. In the past week, we are still admitting more than one new patient with COVID-19 to our hospitals every hour.” There is uncertainty surrounding available vaccine supply, and because of this, we cannot accept any new first dose appointments at this time. All existing appointments will continue as scheduled for the time being. We are working closely with the state to understand quantities we can expect going forward. We look forward to opening additional appointments as supply becomes available. This week Geisinger provided its 50,000th COVID-19 vaccine.About two-thirds of Geisinger employees have chosen to receive the vaccine.We are encouraged by promising trends among the COVID-19 positivity rate for our employees since introducing the vaccine. Current positivity rates among employees are at levels comparable to last summer. “Demand for the vaccine is still incredibly high in our communities, and we will continue to provide the vaccine as supplies and logistics allow,” Ryu said. “We know a lot of people continue to have questions about when they can get an appointment. We ask for everyone’s patience and encourage you to visit geisinger.org/COVIDvax and myGeisinger regularly for the latest information.” Vaccine supply globally is fluctuating each week, but has been and will continue to be low over the next several weeks, increasing the time it will take to get through the state’s Phase 1A. That is why although vaccines are being provided across the Commonwealth each day, it remains necessary to continue following the preventive measures that have been in place to help stop the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask, thoroughly washing hands and avoiding large and small gatherings are still needed, as we are still likely months away from being able to loosen these measures. For continued updates on the COVID-19 vaccine and updates on availability, visit geisinger.org/COVIDvax.