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PUBLIC HEALTH

Cayuga County reports one of its youngest COVID deaths, Auburn hospital beds filling up

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Auburn Community Hospital

Auburn Community Hospital

A spike in respiratory illnesses is taking a toll in Cayuga County. 

The Cayuga County Health Department reported one of the youngest COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020. A man in his 30s died after testing positive for the virus, according to the department. 

No other information was released. However, the health department's hospitalization data for the week of Nov. 24-30 shows that there was one unvaccinated patient in their 30s who was hospitalized with COVID. 

The county reported 10 residents were hospitalized with COVID, nine of whom were age 60 or older. Four of the patients are fully vaccinated and received at least one booster shot, one is fully vaccinated but did not receive a booster and four are unvaccinated. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Cayuga County has a low COVID-19 community level, which is determined based on the case rate, number of hospital beds in use and new hospital admissions. 

According to the CDC, Cayuga County's COVID-19 case rate is 54.85 per 100,000 people and there have been six new admissions per 100,000 people. The percentage of beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 is 4.8%. 

But it's not just COVID that is a problem as winter nears. There has been an increased number of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases in Cayuga County. The health department urged residents to take action to prevent the spread of COVID, RSV and other respiratory illnesses. 

RSV is a respiratory virus that causes cold-like symptoms. While most cases are mild, it can cause serious illness in infants and older adults, according to the CDC. 

The health department added that health care providers and hospitals "continue to provide care for cases of COVID and flu." 

Publicly available data suggests that respiratory illnesses are already overwhelming hospitals in central New York, including Auburn Community Hospital. A state tracker shows that out of Auburn's 82 total hospital beds, six were available as of Wednesday. Over a seven-day period, the hospital has an average 25% of its beds available for patients. 

One other notable statistic is that of the 10 intensive care unit beds at Auburn, all are occupied. That's a similar problem at other central New York hospitals, according to data provided to the state. Most Syracuse hospitals either have all ICU beds occupied or a small number of available beds. 

A fever, cough, shortness of breath: This winter, it could be hard to tell which virus your child may be fighting – RSV, flu or COVID-19.

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 664-4631 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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