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Hospital staff under increasing stress as coronavirus pandemic spreads

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to climb, the pressure put on hospitals also becomes more burdensome.

NORFOLK, Va. — Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the Commonwealth, as the number of confirmed cases surpassed 600 on Friday.

Many of those cases are in Hampton Roads and they're putting a lot of pressure on local hospitals and health care providers.

"The stress levels are high," said Dr. Edward Oldfield, an infectious disease specialist with EVMS.

Oldfield said there’s a real worry inside medical facilities about protecting healthcare workers who treat incoming patients.

"There's a limitation on what we call 'personal protective equipment' or 'PPE,'" he said, adding that there aren't enough face masks, gowns, or gloves.

A lot of seemingly regular, healthy people have been going outside wearing masks.  But Dr. Oldfield said if you’re not showing any symptoms, you should save those masks for people who really need them.

"At Norfolk General, there's a station right outside of the door and so the first thing they’re gonna do is ask you what your symptoms are and they’re gonna put a mask on you before they bring you back from everybody else in the waiting room," he said.

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Dr. Oldfield asks that if you do have symptoms, just stay home.

"The testing right now is limited, and there’s a lot of flu out there," he said. "So it could be flu and if you come into the hospital to be tested, then you could then expose yourself to true COVID-19 patients.

Indeed, we are still in the peak of flu season. The Virginia Department of Health updated the flu count on Thursday. It received more than 300 new cases of the flu in the week ending on March 21. The most people affected: children younger than 4.

This flu season, more than 1,100 people have died from pneumonia and influenza-associated deaths.

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