St. Claire HealthCare issues alarm, reminds community of ways to slow COVID

With antibodies not available, vaccines, boosters, masks even more important

MOREHEAD, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – As the Omicron COVID-19 variant sweeps across the U.S., positivity rates for COVID-19 continue to rise.

“Just last week, Rowan County alone announced 222 new COVID-19 cases. That’s only a fraction of our service region,” said Will Melahn, MD, St. Claire HealthCare’s Chief Medical Officer/VP for Medical Affairs. “Positive cases are on a severe rise and Omicron is proving to be the dominant strain in our area.”

While monoclonal antibody therapy has been a successful tool in fighting the effects of COVID-19, only one form of the therapy, sotrovimab, has proved to work against Omicron. SCH announced last week that their allocation of any monoclonal therapy treatments, including sotrovimab, has been exhausted. With national supplies extremely limited, all requests for the treatment at SCH have been put on hold until further notice.

“Having monoclonal antibody therapy as a treatment option has made a major difference in how our patients were recovering from the effects of COVID-19. Now that our supply is so limited, it’s more important than ever that you take precautions to protect yourself and others from getting the Omicron strain,” said Melahn.

According to the CDC, there are four main things you can do to stay protected against Omicron: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear your mask, and get tested before gathering with others.

“Since the day they were made available, vaccines have been an incredibly safe and effective tool in preventing the spread of COVID,” said Melahn. “If you have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated and are now eligible to get your booster, consider getting it immediately.”

St. Claire HealthCare administers the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone ages 5 years or older. Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are available to anyone ages 18 years or older.

Booster doses to increase your level of protection are also offered. If you completed your vaccination series of Moderna or Pfizer at least five months ago or received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, it’s time to get boosted! You can schedule your COVID-19 vaccine or booster, by calling 606.783.7539. Schedulers are available to take your call Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 6 PM.

“The vast majority of patients we admit to St. Claire Regional Medical Center are unvaccinated,” said Melahn. “Over the weekend, only 29% of our patients had completed their vaccination series. Could you imagine the number of hospitalization that could have been prevented had the other 71% been fully vaccinated?”

Part of slowing the spread is knowing whether or not you actually have COVID-19. SCH has partnered with Wild Health to offer COVID-19 testing at the St. Claire Medical Pavilion from 8 AM to 3 PM daily.

“Getting tested before gathering with others is always a good idea,” Melahn added. “Part of the problem in spreading COVID is that not everyone will become symptomatic. Antigen rapid tests are now available, so take advantage of getting your results quickly so you can safely spend time with friends and family.”

Results for the antigen rapid test can be available via email as soon as two hours after being tested. To schedule an appointment and complete the required pre-registration, visit www.wildhealthtesting.com/stclaire. PCR COVID-19 tests are also available. For extra peace of mind, both tests can be requested within one appointment.

“We have dealt with COVID for quite a while now, and continue to fight it every day. We know you’re tired of hearing about it, but we must remain cautious so we can one day rid our region of this illness,” said Melahn. “Wear your masks, wash your hands, practice social distancing, get vaccinated, and get tested when appropriate to help us fight this fight. We can’t do it alone.”

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