UPMC hospitals prepared as COVID-19 cases spike, doctors say

UPMC hospitals prepared as COVID-19 cases spike, doctors say

PITTSBURGH — UPMC doctors said the health system’s hospitals are prepared as COVID-19 cases spike in the Pittsburgh region.

While the positivity rate in Pennsylvania is higher than they’d like to see, doctors did have some positive news to share Wednesday.

Not only is there no shortage of personal protective equipment, COVID-19 mortality rates compared to the spring have dropped by 50%. The same goes for patients needing ventilators and intensive care treatment.

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One reason for there being less severe cases can be traced to treatment of the virus -- particularly UPMC’s re-map COVID-19 clinical trials. Doctors learned giving corticosteroids to hospitalized patients greatly improves their chances of survival.

Back to the positivity rate, it currently is right around seven percent.

“Clearly, the increased positivity rates are concerning to us all. We hope that this rise will plateau, but we are prepared that it won’t, and the advantage of having all these months to prepare is that we have plans that can be implemented and modified as the situation changes,” Dr. Rachel Sackrowitz said.

Many factors are contributing to the case increase, including the cooler weather and gatherings, such as for Halloween, doctors said.

As we get closer to the holidays, they once again stressed the importance of social distancing, hand hygiene and wearing a mask -- which they said blocks some of the virus from getting into a person’s body.

Having a lower dose of the virus makes it easier for a person’s body to fight it off, doctors said.

“We are asking everybody to change their behavior over the holiday season,” said Sackrowitz. “It is important that all of us modify how we celebrate now, so we can be together with our extended families in the future.”

RAW: UPMC officials discuss preparedness for increased COVID-19 cases