It was one of the facts of life for the last year in American hospitals — intensive care units dedicated to COVID-19 patients.
Now, there are signs that coronavirus-specific ICUs are shutting down in several major facilities.
According to TheBlaze, the closures have come in recent weeks, as cases are well down from January highs and vaccination picks up.
Last week in Dallas, Parkland Hospital announced it was shutting down its ICU unit dedicated to patients infected with the novel coronavirus. KDFW-TV noted it was “marking a milestone in the battle against the virus one year after it began spreading in North Texas.”
“Parkland officials said there are still COVID-19 patients at the hospital, but hospitalizations have dipped to a point where extra so-called tactical care units (TCU) are not needed,” they added.
Earlier in the month, Baxter Regional Medical Center in Baxter County, Arkansas closed its COVID-19 ICU unit after having opened it in “the early stages of 2020,” The Associated Press reported.
“We couldn’t be happier to share that our COVID unit is official CLOSED as of Friday, March 12,” the hospital announced in a news release.
Baxter Regional Medical Center accomplished an exciting milestone last week. After converting an existing unit to one…
At Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, the closure came in February.
“This is a moment of celebration as we vacated the emergency Covid ICU,” Steve Edwards, president and CEO of CoxHealth, wrote in a Twitter post.
“Our number of Covid patients at Cox South has dropped to 43, and only 5 critical. We are mindful of future worries, but for now, HERE COMES THE SUN!”
This is a moment of celebration as we vacated the emergency Covid ICU. Our number of Covid patients at Cox South has dropped to 43, and only 5 critical. We are mindful of future worries, but for now, HERE COMES THE SUN! pic.twitter.com/57t2TvWweB
— Steve Edwards (@SDECoxHealth) February 18, 2021
“We danced around and screamed and cheered. It was definitely a morale booster and we were all very excited for that to happen,” said nurse Sarah Cunningham, according to KYTV-TV.
Cunningham had worked in the ward since it opened last spring.
“Whenever the unit was first built and we were opening it, they gave us a tour of it. It was very daunting,” she said.
Cox will still keep the ICU on standby in case there’s a surge.
“We don’t know what the future holds. It could have to reopen in the next day or two or it could stay closed,” Cunningham said. “I think ‘cautiously optimistic’ is the perfect way to describe it.”
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In Des Moines, Iowa, MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center also closed its COVID-19 unit in mid-February.
“Our ICU counts came to a point where we felt we didn’t need to keep a closed off unit,” Dr. Ravi Vemuri, infection prevention officer for MercyOne Des Moines and West Des Moines, told KCCI-TV. The hospital was seeing 15 to 25 COVID-19 patients a day, but those could be placed into the regular ICU unit, with each room treated as a closed-off space, the station reported.
“It wasn’t unusual for us to have anywhere from 90 to 110 patients all with COVID in the hospital” between October and December, Vemuri told KCCI.
Overall, the tone in the U.S. these past few weeks has been cautious optimism. As vaccine production begins to spool up, cases have gone down. According to The New York Times, while COVID-19 cases were trending slightly upward in the United States, with a seven-day average of 63,199 on Sunday, they were far from the peak of 254,908 recorded on Jan. 10.
There are others signs things are getting back to something resembling normal, even if Democrats disagree. Texas and Mississippi have both reopened most public venues in their states and ended masking mandates. Those decisions were met with calls of wild alarm by public health experts — but on Thursday, three weeks after the reopening order, the numbers in Texas were trending in a positive direction.
Today Texas had the lowest reported Covid 7-day positivity rate in more than a year: 5.68%
Covid hospitalizations went down again–to the lowest level in more than 5 months.
Vaccine supplies are increasing & all adult Texans are eligible to get them beginning Monday.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 26, 2021
According to CNN, as of Monday, 143.3 million vaccinations have been given, or about 43 doses for every 100 people in the United States.
It’s always premature to spike the football on the novel coronavirus. The U.S. has seen 549,335 deaths from COVID-19 as of Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In Europe, a poor vaccine rollout and virus variants have caused governments to resume lockdowns, according to NPR.
That said, this also isn’t time for COVID alarmism, either. The level of fatigue and distrust from officialdom screaming down on high about the dangers if we don’t triple-mask on the rare occasions we venture outside the house is too high.
Many ignored those warnings anyway, including many of those in officialdom involved in the messaging.
Just think, there’s one Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant called the French Laundry where no less than two California lockdown hawks — Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed — ended up blowing all political capital on the issue by attending the kind of group dinners they were strongly advising their own constituents against.
So no more of that. All optimism must be cautious, but COVID ICUs closing is yet another sign we’re on the road back to normalcy. We ought to act like it.
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