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COVID-19 hospitalizations increase at Geisinger

Geisinger currently has four times the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations than it did last year at this time.

DANVILLE, Pa. — We are more than a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, and doctors at Geisinger say it's not slowing down. The health system has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 patients over the last few months. Geisinger currently has 195 coronavirus patients in its hospitals, with 88 percent unvaccinated.

"Which is significantly more than we had a year ago, and it's significantly more than we had last week. Of that 195, that's a 29-patient increase from last week," said Dr. Gerald Maloney, chief medical officer for Geisinger hospitals.

Dr. Maloney says that Geisinger currently has more than four times the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations than last year at this time. He blames it on a lack of vaccinations.

"If we do what we know works, we can get it to be over if we get vaccinated. There's a lot of reasons why people don't want to get vaccinated, but the fact is it's a public health measure that's effective," Dr. Maloney said.

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The increase in cases is not limited to adults.

"We are increasing our admission rates at the Janet Weis Children's Hospital here at Geisinger, and we are seeing more patients sick with COVID in our clinics as well," said Dr. Stacey Cummings, Geisinger's chair of pediatrics.

Dr. Cummings says that in the past two weeks, 28 percent of Geisinger's positive cases are children under 17. Dr. Cummings says that while it has become a controversial topic, masking in schools makes a difference for children.

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"If a child who is sick or is coming down with an illness and doesn't realize it is able to wear a mask, they will spread a lot less of any respiratory illness they may have," Dr. Cummings said.

Both doctors stressed that the virus is still here and it's still replicating.