LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Lynchburg city leaders and health officials are sounding the alarm about just how serious the coronavirus pandemic is getting in the Hill City. Mayor MaryJane Dolan hosted a news conference on Monday to try to drive home the point that hospitalizations are at a dangerous level.
She called for all residents to take this virus seriously and heed the words of health officials.
“I wish I could give you some good news, but I can’t,” said Dr. Chris Lewis, the Vice President of Medical Affairs for Centra Health.
He said one of the sickest COVID patients in Lynchburg General Hospital died over the weekend at age 47, the same age as Dr. Lewis.
“I could have been in that bed,” he said. “And I could not be here speaking today because COVID killed me. This can affect everybody.”
He said 36 COVID patients are in Lynchburg General, their highest number yet. Twelve are on ventilators.
Lewis says the trend is unsustainable.
“Are we overwhelmed? We are stressed about as far as we can go right now, and I would say that’s staff, I would say that’s bed capacity,” he said. “Are we managing currently? Yes, but barely. The fear we have is we’re worried about what’s down the road.”
Dr. Kerry Gateley, Director of the Central Virginia Health District, says it’s on everyone to ease the burden on the hospitals by taking social distancing and mask-wearing seriously.
“I don’t like this any more than anybody else,” he said, pointing to his mask and calling it “uncomfortable,” “but I feel like I have a responsibility to be careful for other people’s sake, and that’s what I would encourage all of you to do.”
“It makes it less and less possible for the virus to transmit. Clearly we’re not doing that very well.”
It’s having an impact on the hospital’s ability to care for both COVID and non-COVID patients.
“This is just a minor inconvenience when you take into consideration all the lives that you are protecting and possibly saving,” said Mayor Dolan, referring to best practices like wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and other commonly-discussed health and safety measures.
Gateley says the Health Department received a 120,000 dollar grant and will be organizing community testing. The plans are still in the works. WFXR will provide updates as they are announced.
Watch the full press conference below:
Lynchburg Mayor Mary Jane Dolan will hold a press conference in the Council Chamber, City Hall, 900 Church Street, at 10 a.m. on Monday to provide an update on COVID-19 cases in the area.
Watch online at WFXRtv.com or on the WFXR news app.