Tahoe Forest CEO gives COVID update at Breakfast Club forum | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Forest CEO gives COVID update at Breakfast Club forum

The North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce held its monthly Breakfast Club forum Tuesday, bringing together local leaders to discuss recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those speaking were Tahoe Forest Health System President & CEO Harry Weis, who gave an update on the recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases in the past four weeks.

“The big thing is we’re moving at a speed now where, just in two months, we might see a spread that used to take nine months,” said Weis during the forum. “I just really want to emphasize that. We are seeing a tremendous growth in terms of hospital activity as well. We reported 11 inpatients yesterday. That included rule-out and confirmed. Previously, I think, our high in the entire eight months was roughly eight patients.

“It’s just really important that people understand that the disease is spreading pretty significantly right now. We could see a doubling effect just by the end of January if it continues at this intensity and another doubling effect roughly by March 31, and another doubling effect by May 31.”

“The big thing is we’re moving at a speed now where, just in two months, we might see a spread that used to take nine months.”— Harry WeisTahoe Forest Health System President & CEO

In terms of beds, Weis added that Tahoe Forest Health System is running at approximately 80% occupancy, which includes non-COVID patients.

“The other thing that’s really important to share is that all of the hospitals around us, in general, are quite full as well,” said Weis. “One of the issues that we as hospital systems are facing … is really staffing shortages as well. So, that’s another reason why it’s really important to try to stay healthy. This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”

Tahoe Forest Health System, which serves patients across counties in California and Nevada, has had seven new positive test results since Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases at Tahoe Forest to 523.

“Nobody in the last 100 years has seen a disease that has continued on like this for at least nine months,” said Weis, who added that the route forward likely requires “a very thoughtful, maximizing vaccine program as soon as possible and hopefully on a fairly big scale starting at the first of the year.”

Weis also said 72 employees from Tahoe Forest have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our team is very courageous, but they’re also a little concerned. Our capacity is limited.” Looking for expansion “It’s just really important that individuals do mask, they do physically distance, that they do physically distance. We can make it through this successfully, but we really need to be careful.”

Anyone with symptoms is encouraged to call Tahoe Forest’s hotline at 530-582-3450. COVID-19 testing is free to all.

“Personally, if I had symptoms I would come to our ER,” said Weis. “We have the rapid test and you can find out probably within hour where you stand.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

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