CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) requested federal assistance for the Charlotte region Friday due to record COVID-19 hospitalizations.
In a news release, NCDHHS said hospitals continue to face staffing shortages due to the pandemic and hope federal support can improve the situation.
“We continue to monitor hospital capacity and staffing shortages, and have requested resources including additional nurses from FEMA,” Governor Roy Cooper said.
The state is working with Atrium Health, North Carolina’s largest health provider, on a request to FEMA and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response asking for support with more staff.
Atrium Health reported that it has tried to expand its capacity in various ways, including redeploying staff from urgent care centers; limit non-urgent procedures; closure of specialty centers; and the use of flexibilities granted by the state.
NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley described the dire hospital situation in a letter to hospital leaders last week. He said that despite his best attempts, the health system remains above 95% capacity.
Kinsley also said the vast majority of hospitalized people are unvaccinated, making up 72% of hospitalizations and 83% of emergency room admissions related to COVID-19 statewide.
“While we will continue to do everything we can to safeguard hospital care, every North Carolinian can do their part by staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations and wearing a proper face covering while around others during this surge. of cases,” Kinsley said.
The state continues to set daily records throughout the month of January, hitting another high Thursday with 4,741 people hospitalized.
Governor Cooper previously issued executive orders making it easier for hospitals and health care providers to care for larger numbers of COVID-19 patients.
The NCDHHS said everyone over the age of five should get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. The CDC recommends a KN95 or N95 mask to be better protected.
NCDHHS said it is in close contact with federal partners and with hospitals across the state to continue to assess needs as the pandemic continues.
Earlier this month, FEMA provided the state with 25 ambulances that they have deployed to 11 counties and are currently scheduled to remain in North Carolina through February 3.
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