Health officials continue to fight against COVID-19 as a new variant is discovered.

Kristy Quinn, marketing and public relations director for Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville, said while there has been a reduction in the number of COVID-19 patients, the hospital has not had a break from COVID.

“We still have patients that have to be cared for, both in the hospital and in the clinics, that have COVID and that also are suffering from the effects of long-COVID,” she said.

The Hopkins County Health Department reported 94 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, with a total of 216 deaths.

On Monday, the Kentucky COVID-19 website classified Hopkins County as a red county with an incidence rate of 28.8. A red classification means there are 25 or more average daily cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents.

The hospital reported 13 unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in the hospital, with only two unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in the Critical Care Unit on Tuesday.

On Nov. 26, the World Health Organization classified a new COVID-19 variant named omicron, according to the Center for Disease Control website.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa, and although the variant has been identified in a dozen other countries, it has not been identified in the United States.

“We are working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more about this variant as we continue to monitor its path,” according to the CDC website.

Quinn said the hospital will continue to treat those that need inpatient and critical care as they have done for almost two years.

“It remains to be seen what the patient experience with this variant will be and how transmissible it is,” she said. “Each new variant brings new challenges and new learning opportunities for scientists.”

Quinn said around the winter months they typically see an increase in respiratory illnesses and flu as people begin to move indoors.

“That is amplified by COVID’s delta variant and the reduction in masking, social distancing, a lower than ideal rate of vaccination for COVID and the flu in our community,” she said.

She said the clinics, Urgent Care, and the hospital are experiencing a high volume of illness, not just COVID-19 patients.

“During the peak of COVID, many people put off routine annual visits and screenings, and others did not seek medical care in early stages for other illnesses and concerns, and now they are very sick,” said Quinn.

The CDC and Quinn continue to recommend that people follow COVID-19 prevention strategies like wearing a mask in a public indoor setting, washing hands frequently, and physically distancing from others.

Quinn encourages everyone who is five years and older to get vaccinated or get the booster dose.

“That is our best defense against COVID and our way out of this pandemic,” she said.

If anyone has questions, she suggests seeking help from a medical professional or a pharmacist.

The Health Department and some local pharmacies are administering the COVID-19 vaccine or call your physician’s office for an appointment.

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