Officials with Deaconess released a joint statement on Tuesday, offering several pieces of information, advice, and encouragement to area residents heading into the holiday season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the holiday season approaching, Deaconess says the worst could be yet to come.
"It's been a difficult year, and to be honest, it looks like we are heading into a difficult holiday season and winter," the statement read. "We're fatigued, and know you are too. We all want this whole situation to get better, but 'better' may be several months away."
Deaconess says many areas of staffing are currently strained due to absences caused by quarantines and illness, calling the prospect of what could happen after holiday gatherings "frightening."
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, Deaconess is asking everyone to carefully weigh their options when considering getting together for celebrations, with the health and safety of relatives and loved ones hanging in the balance.
"This year, we will be missing many traditions, gatherings, and family members. But we know it's better than missing some family members forever because they became ill with COVID-19," the statement from Deaconess said.
In recent days, Deaconess said it had been treating its highest number of COVID-19 patients to date with "multiple hospitals approaching capacity", and with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continually increasing throughout the state and Vanderburgh County, the holiday season paints a troubling possibility.
While Tuesday's statement from Deaconess administrators was filled with warnings and worries, health officials did offer some encouraging words.
"It won't always be this way," said the statement from Deaconess. "Hold on to that knowledge. Keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy and safe."
If you'd like to see the full letter from Deaconess health officials, you can do so here.