COVID tent

Owensboro Health has recently reinstalled its COVID-19 tent outside of the OH Regional Hospital emergency entrance.

Owensboro Health has recently reinstalled its COVID-19 tent outside of the OH Regional Hospital emergency entrance.

The tent was originally constructed outside of the hospital a year ago to help meet the challenges created by COVID-19.

It was removed in May, which was considered “a milestone” in the community’s fight against COVID-19, according to Alysia Adams, OH director of emergency and trauma services.

As cases have begun to surge in Daviess County, the tent has gone back up to provide a designated area for monoclonal antibody infusion for COVID-19 patients at the hospital, according to Frances DuFrayne, chief medical officer at Owensboro Health.

He said the hospital has seen an influx in COVID-19 patients recently, having gone from an average of about two to three patients per day to peaking this past weekend at 21.

“As an act of caution … we decided to put the COVID tent back up,” he said.

In addition to the tent, he said, the hospital is reinforcing mask policies for everyone at the hospital and throughout the organization. He said the recommendation is for everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, to wear a mask in the building.

DuFrayne said the hospital is also requiring patients to be tested for COVID-19 prior to having a procedure, a measure that was previously put in place and will be reinforced now that cases are rising again.

The efforts, he said, are to ensure the safety of all team members and patients at OH.

DuFrayne credits the resurgence to the percentage of unvaccinated individuals in the community, social gatherings during the summer and not taking appropriate measures to combat the spread of the virus, such as hand washing, mask-wearing and social distancing.

He also said the recent Independence Day holiday could have played a large part in the most recent rise in cases.

“It’s not surprising that this latest surge came after the Fourth of July holiday. People are getting together for cookouts and barbecues, whether they’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, and they’re not wearing masks,” he said. “I get the sense from most people that they really think this pandemic is over and that all those measures have gone away, and unfortunately, as we can see across the country … the number of COVID cases has gone up significantly.”

DuFrayne said this recent resurgence in cases has also happened much sooner than expected.

“We were not expecting another surge until sometime in the fall, given that coronavirus is a respiratory virus and most of those are much more common or prevalent in cold weather than in warm weather,” he said. “The fact that this is coming on now in the middle of summer is concerning and I think what we will be seeing for some time.”

DuFrayne said he expects to see the upward trend in COVID-19 cases to continue dropping and resurging “until we have a much higher vaccination rate.”

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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