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Geisinger head concerned as coronavirus case numbers climb

There are nearly 3,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.

DANVILLE, Pa. — Geisinger is seeing concerning trends at its nine hospitals across Pennsylvania, according to Geisinger President and CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu.

Dr. Ryu said that the positive test rates have more than doubled over the last few weeks and that 85 to 90 percent of the coronavirus patients hospitalized here are not from nursing homes.

"As far as the number of patients with COVID in our hospitals, that demand we've seen since November 9 is well past where we were back in April, and we're probably even 40 to 50 percent higher than that at this point," Dr. Ryu said.

Dr. Ryu spoke to reporters about what is happening inside Geisinger hospitals. A few weeks ago, the positive test rate was 9 percent, and now it is just over 20 percent. There are nearly 200 people hospitalized with COVID-19 at Geisinger's hospitals, more than 50 of them in the intensive care unit.

"Every couple of hours, we're seeing someone with COVID getting admitted to Geisinger. We are now seeing that happen once every hour, and so you get the sense that this thing is picking up steam in a way that none of us are happy about."

Dr. Ryu says nearly 90 percent of Geisinger's COVID-19 patients are not from nursing homes, and people in their 20s and 30s are contributing to the highest jump in positive cases.

Geisinger is pushing back some of its elective surgeries to make more room for COVID-19 patients. Dr. Ryu believes the worst is yet to come.

"Those positive tests, as we've said all along, we've seen fairly consistently that within the week or two following that, the demand for hospital services also tends to follow and spike."

Geisinger is one of around 100 health systems across the country that is part of a nationwide "mask up" campaign encouraging people to wear masks.