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Lower COVID numbers and post-pandemic challenges locally

Yuma Regional Medical Center has fully reopened their facilities now that COVID-19 numbers are lower, but it's presented a new task for them to handle - 13 On Your Side's Luis Lopez reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - While COVID-19 cases are continuing to drop in the desert southwest, the pandemic’s after effects are now taking place.

CovidActNow.Org says Yuma County is only averaging about 13 new cases a day, with Imperial County at around 35 cases a day.

The lower numbers have caused more things to open up, however, for Yuma Regional Medical Center, their openings have left them with a large task.

YRMC has fully reopened their facilities. The pandemic had forced many specific facilities to close, forcing many to wait for treatment.

But now, they’re back. However,Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bharat Magu says it’s presented a new challenge for the hospital.

“There’s a lot of backlog, what I want to tell our community is that we are trying our best to you know get every patient who has been waiting for years or months to get services, it will take us a little while,” Dr. Magu said.

YRMC says they have thousands of patients waiting for different medical services.

They expect the catch-up process to take about six to nine months. As for actual COVID-19 numbers…

The hospital expects cases to drop even further as we head into warmer weather.

“We definitely believe that the summer, we may go zero, few days then have one admitted here and there, there will be a little more outside in the community, obviously we will only get them if they are sick enough to get admitted into the hospital,” Dr. Magu said.

And as numbers remain low, another booster shot could be on the way as well. Moderna announcing Thursday it's asked the FDA for authorization on a second booster.

However, according to the hospital, it’s not something everyone will need.

Saying it will likely just be needed for those 65 and older or immunocomprimised, and later shots will be a part of yearly doses.  

“In a nutshell, the second booster has likelihood to be approved but only for special population and not for everyone and then we’ll see potentially an annual vaccination like flu vaccinations starting this coming year,” Dr. Magu said.

As for current vaccination rates, CovidActNow.Org says Yuma County has 70% of residents fully vaccinated, with Imperial county even higher, at 92%.

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Luis Lopez

Luis Lopez covers sports and weather for KYMA.

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