Health experts show results of why COVID-19 hospitalization rates has decreased

video: Health experts show results of why COVID-19 hospitalization rates has decreased

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Hospitals in Amarillo are looking toward a “good future” as area health experts believe vaccinations, masking precautions and a high number of recoveries are likely contributing to a decrease in positive cases.

In October, area hospitals saw a spike in patients hospitalized with Coronavirus.

Northwest Texas Healthcare System and Baptist Saint Anthony’s Hospital are now caring for the lowest number of hospitalized COVID-19 they’ve had since the first of October.

“I do feel like we have a good future ahead of us,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA.

Lamanteer said BSA is currently caring for 64 COVID-19 patients, and 28 of those patients are in the Intensive Care Unit. NWTH is caring for 51 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, 22 of whom are in the ICU.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are decreasing not only in Amarillo, but around the panhandle region.

“We’ve seen fewer positive, we have few hospital admissions however I will say acuity has been up. They are tending to be sicker patients,” said Jeff Barnhart, CEO of Deaf Smith Hospital District.

Hospital administration at Golden Plains Hospital in Borger says, like most, COVID-19 hospitalizations are down but still high.

It’s the smaller hospitals that could be adding to the regional hospitalization rate.

“You’re also talking about a lot of these smaller, regional facilities. And because they have a low number of beds, every COVID patient they have is going to change that percentage obviously much more drastically than BSA or Northwest. So I think that’s where we are seeing some of those higher percentages is these smaller facilities,” said Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Hospital.

Area health experts stressed the importance of continued safety measures, despite the decrease in cases and hospitalizations. In a news conference today, they encouraged continued masking and vaccinations, especially considering the rise of COVID-19 variants throughout the country.

“Our vaccinations are starting to have an impact,” said Dr. Scott Milton, public health authority with TTUHSC. “These variants are more contagious...it’s really a race against time.”

The vaccination clinic ran by the Amarillo Public Health Department has administered over 27,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

During the news conference, Director of Amarillo Public Health Casie Stoughton released some data related to the city’s vaccinations.

Stoughton said 83.3 percent of vaccinations were given to residents of Potter and Randall Counties. This means the remaining 16 percent of vaccinations were given to residents of other counties.

Nearly 54 percent of the vaccinations have been given to women, and 45 percent have been given to men.

The data on race shows 85.7 percent of recipients identified as white; 2.7 percent as black; 4.2 percent as Asian; 15.8 percent as Hispanic; and 3.7 percent as other.

Mayor Ginger Nelson said citizenship or immigration status should not be a deterrent to any potential recipients, as no one visiting the clinic will be asked to prove citizenship status.

“You do not have to be a citizen to get a vaccine,” said Mayor Nelson. “If you’re here living in our city, your health is important to us and we want you to be safe.”

The City Health Department continues to operate a free testing clinic.

To be referred to the clinic, call (806) 378-6300.

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