Alexandria, VA

(Updated 12:30 p.m.) While COVID-19 is on the rise in Alexandria, Dr. Rina Bansal, President of Inova Alexandria Hospital, said hospitalizations for the virus are higher but remaining stable.

“It’s busy,” Bansal said. “We’re managing admissions and discharges. The key is to make sure patients who don’t need to be in the hospital can be discharged quickly. We’re open and here to care about the community.”

Bansal said the winter season is already busier than the rest of the year before the added complication of COVID. But the hospital is managing, with staff starting to receive the vaccine and the hospital recently recognized for quality and safety.

“We have a higher [count] than we did four weeks ago,” Bansal said. “We did see an increase but it’s more stable now. Went up to the 40s but we’re not seeing an increase in the day by day, week by week basis that we did earlier.”

Bansal said one of the key differences is the first wave of COVID-19 was characterized by the most vulnerable populations getting sick and requiring hospital care.

“This time, it includes people who are younger,” Bansal said. “There are people who are not getting sick enough to come into the hospital or turning around more quickly. From a treatment perspective, we’ve also learned so much in the last few months and clinical management is better. It makes it easier to care for patients.”

Still, Bansal urged locals not to socialize or gather for the winter holidays after a nationwide uptick in cases after Thanksgiving.

“People want to socialize and we would definitely recommend against that,” Bansal said.

Bansal also encouraged locals to come in and get their flu shots. During the first wave of the pandemic, Bansal said the hospital had issues where those who should have come in for check ups and medical issues were avoiding the hospital due to COVID-19.

“We continue to be open and fully operational,” Bansal said. “Don’t be scared to come into the hospital.”

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