Hospitals are celebrating being COVID-free for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
“We were really aiming for some good news after 13, 14 months of horrible news,” Anniston, Alabama, Dr. Raul Magadia told CNN of getting on the intercom to make the COVID-free announcement May 25. “That moment,” he added, “that we had zero (patients), it’s an unbelievable feeling.
“It’s really looking good. We’re seeing the light at the end of this long, long tunnel, but we’re not quite out of the woods yet.”
The 22,400 Americans hospitalized nationwide is more than an 83% decrease from the peak of 136,000 in January, according to Department of Health & Human Services data.
“It’s incredibly hopeful for us,” Dr. Susan Ehrlich, CEO of the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital told CNN when they were COVID-free late last month. “It was a very fatiguing year and a half, very stressful.”
Health experts hailed the mass vaccinations for the subsiding COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“If you’re here sick with COVID, you’ve not been vaccinated,” Dr. Steven Stites, the chief medical officer at the University of Kansas. “We’ve had one person who had been vaccinated that I can think of off the top of my head.”
Dr. Magadia pointed to the dramatic decrease in hospitalizations a proof positive the vaccines are effective, as he told CNN that 95% of the his hospitalizations are the unvaccinated.
“It’s really a compelling point that vaccines work,” Magadia told CNN.
Another piece of circumstantial evidence of the need for vaccinations are a rise in younger COVID-19 patients being hospitalized, CNN reported.
“Two-thirds of the people we have in the intensive care unit,” Dr. Jeffrey Chapman, chief medical officer Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, told CNN, “are 50-60, whereas in the past, it was almost all 70s and 80s
“And we’ve actually seen a small number of pediatric patients, which we haven’t seen for quite some time.
“So I think one can postulate that, because younger age groups are vaccinated at a lower frequency,” he continued, “we’re seeing more people at a younger age that are requiring hospitalization.
“Can I say association? Yes. Can I say causation? I don’t have absolute data to back that up, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that.”