Fairfield Memorial Hospital nears capacity as COVID-19 cases rise

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FAIRFIELD, Ill. (WEHT) — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Southern Illinois. Fairfield Memorial Hospital officials say they only have about three to four beds open as of Monday afternoon.

Cases have surged across Wayne County in recent weeks as the delta variant continues to spread through the community, according to officials. 

“Our main problem we are seeing right now though is getting people transported out even for non COVID problems like heart disease, strokes, anything like that,” explained Fairfield Memorial Hospitalist Dr. Christopher Ballard. “Most of the area hospitals are full and with staffing shortages it’s very difficult to get people transferred to higher levels of care.”

Some people in Wayne County believe the problem isn’t the virus. Take for example a recent sign posted along a busy Fairfield street. It reads “The media does not have the answers – God does.” 

Eyewitness News also visited the same store in September 2020. A sign reading “Don’t believe COVID numbers, believe God’s numbers” was put up outside of Uniquely Rustique in downtown Fairfield.

The owners didn’t want to go on camera but say they believe the pandemic has been overblown and that the community already knows their thoughts on the matter.

Wayne County’s positivity rate is 18 percent and on Friday alone there were 61 new cases of the virus reported. 

Others in Wayne County say they believe the pandemic is real and some people need to take it more seriously.

“The local government, the mayor, the schools they all care and even at the local hospital they all care, but you really can’t help if people, everyone needs freedom of choice,” said Cindy Hoffman. “I agree with freedom of choice, I like freedom of choice, but I also know it is a serious disease, and it’s not a made up thing or something.” 

Doctors in Fairfield say they are growing frustrated with misinformation in the community. 

“Stop listening to everyone’s opinion on Facebook, I’m looking at medical studies, I’m not looking at government recommendations, I’m looking at medical studies from our country and other countries,” Dr. Ballard said. “The hospital rate for vaccinated patients is only 0.005 percent, that’s very low.”

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