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ECMC doctor: Ongoing battle against COVID-19 seeing good, bad developments as cases increase

"My ICU beds are not now chock full of COVID patients like they were in the spring. But now my medical beds are full," said Dr. Sam Cloud.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's a mixed picture right now at ECMC and other hospitals as they see the COVID case-load picking up substantially, but in a much different way with patients and treatment.

Dr. Sam Cloud is an associate medical director for Erie County Medical Center and is also a physician in the emergency room. Cloud says, "What we're seeing now is the virus itself seems to be more transmissible - meaning that we're seeing huge spikes in the positive rate across our community. But we have seen - and continue to see that the trend is thankfully that the mortality rate is not as high as it was back in the spring."

Cloud added, "My ICU beds are not now chock full of COVID patients like they were in the spring. But now my medical beds are full. So you know in the spring peak we had about 46 or so patients - we had 75 a couple of days ago. So that's really straining our regular medical beds resources and our regular medical - surgical nurses and staff and doctors."

So more COVID patients are coming in to hospitals, but there is also much more knowledge available with COVID-19 experience-based medical care. 

For example, there is much less use of ventilators or intubation which could subject patients to dangerous infections on their own. And there are more effective treatments now like Remdesivir, antibodies, the rotation of patients in their beds called proning, and steroids much like those used to treat asthma. 

"We discovered that the patients who have COVID have kind of a runaway inflammation - the thought was well the steroids reduce inflammation on a broad level so they might work and it turns out they do," Cloud said. "So that was a revelation that has definitely saved lives in the last ten months."