Sentara Healthcare provides COVID-19 update amid Omicron surge
Sentara Emergency Departments Seeing Record High Numbers of Patients
Sentara emergency departments continue to see record high numbers of patients for the second week in a row. Thousands of people a day are going to Sentara emergency departments. Many are asymptomatic seeking a COVID-19 test or have mild COVID-like symptoms.
We ask the community to only visit the emergency department if you are experiencing a medical emergency or worsening COVID-19 symptoms.
If you have been exposed to COVID-19, please do not visit the emergency department just for a COVID-19 test. Instead, seek out a community testing site or an at-home test kit.
- We understand there are limited testing supplies and appointments throughout all communities right now and you may have trouble finding a testing location.
- If you are unable to find a testing location but are experiencing mild symptoms, assume you have COVID-19 and follow the CDC guidelines for isolation.
- View Sentara's video on How to care for yourself at home with COVID-19.
Sentara Healthcare Seeing Record High COVID-19 Hospitalizations
We are seeing the largest increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients than we have this entire pandemic. COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout the health system have more than doubled in the past 10 days and have quadrupled in the past month.
We currently have the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations we’ve ever seen. The majority of those being hospitalized for COVID-19 are those who are unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated and require hospitalization typically have additional medical conditions that put them at high-risk.
According to the VDH vaccine breakthrough cases dashboard, of those in Virginia who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, only 1.5% developed COVID-19, 0.045% have been hospitalized and 0.0169% have died.
We urge everyone who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose. The booster vaccine has shown to offer increased protection against severe illness and hospitalization. You can receive a free vaccine near you by visiting www.vaccinefinder.org.
COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Update
As of January 1, 2022, the incidence of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant has increased to above 90% in our regions.
Sotrovimab is the only COVID monoclonal antibody that has been shown to be effective against Omicron. Previously offered antibodies - bamlanivimab/etesivimab and casirivimab/imdevimab (REGEN-COV) - are not effective against Omicron.
In alignment with national and state guidance and other health systems in our areas, Sentara will stop offering bamlanivimab/etesivimab and casirivimab/imdevimab (REGEN-COV), effective immediately. We will only offer Sotrovimab.
The supply of sotrovimab is extremely limited across the United States but Sentara will continue to offer appointments as supply allows. Due to this limited availability, patients will be prioritized based on Virginia and North Carolina departments of health criteria. The highest risk patients receive treatment. Sentara is operating in coordination with other health systems across our regions.
COVID-19 Oral Antiviral Treatment Update
Both molnupiravir and Paxlovid have been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for outpatient treatment of COVID-19. These medications are not approved for initiation in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
Sentara outpatient pharmacies are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) to obtain inventory. Supply is expected to be extremely limited at first. Sentara providers will work to coordinate offering these medications from our Sentara To Home outpatient pharmacies and community pharmacies as inventory allows.
There are certain restrictions placed on use of these medications by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as age, days of symptom onset, risk factors for progression to severe COVID-19, and others. Patients are encouraged to ask their pharmacist or healthcare provider for more information about these medications to ensure they are appropriate and safe for them.
By: Kelly Kennedy