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Local hospitals seeing better COVID-19 numbers, but deaths high



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Since the peak of more than 120 COVID-19 patients, Augusta University Health has come a long way. Monday morning, there were 63 patients in its COVID-19 units.

“We are seeing a decline in numbers,” AU Health’s Dr. Phillip Coule said. “We are seeing less admissions because of COVID.”

Health officials say numbers are down for two reasons: there are fewer admissions, but there are more deaths.

“We kind of see a lag of about 10 to 21 days or so between a spike in cases and unfortunately when the deaths occur,” Coule said.

AU Health says their monoclonal antibody clinic is full every day. Officials say it’s keeping numbers down.

“It was a blessing because almost immediately during the treatment I began to feel better,” Brennan Francois, who was treated with the therapy, said.

Francois is one of more than 225 patients AU Health has treated in their antibody clinic. He’s 62 years old with comorbidities — high-risk conditions.

“I do believe getting that immune therapy kept me from a more severe condition,” Francois said.

“I still believe that the data will come out that the impact of using monoclonal antibody therapy is significant,” Coule said.

Coule says it’s likely prevented a large number of their more than 200 patients from hospital admission.

This as AU plans to vaccinate its first thousand people in Aiken County later this week, taking on a big issue across the community.

“There’s really not anything in terms of substantive vaccination efforts that’s occurring west of Columbia,” Coule said.

It’s a trend both AU and University Hospital hope to change.