As COVID-19 hospitalization drops, Mayor Nelson encourages infusion treatment

CDC recommends masks in public settings

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - In a news conference today, Mayor Ginger Nelson encouraged those diagnosed with COVID-19 to pursue Bamlanivimab infusion treatment to stay well and out of the hospital.

The antibody infusion treatment is administered at an outpatient clinic ran by the City of Amarillo. To be treated, patients have to have a referral from a physician and be considered high risk.

“It’s a mistake to sit back on your heels and wait a few days (after diagnosis). As soon as you get diagnosed with COVID and you’re in a high-risk category, call your primary care physician and ask for the Bamlanivimab infusion,” said Mayor Nelson. “It’s important to do it right away.”

City health leaders say the treatment generally helps patients feel better within a day of receiving the infusion, and it works best the sooner a person with COVID-19 receives treatment.

As hospitalization rates continue to drop in the region, the City of Amarillo is pushing for community members to stay vigilant in continuing to take precautions that keep the number of hospitalizations and deaths down.

As of today, NWTH is caring for 27 patients with COVID-19. Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer with NWTH, said 13 are in the intensive care unit and eight are on ventilators.

At BSA Hospital, there are 29 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The hospital is caring for 16 COVID patients in the ICU, seven of whom are on ventilators.

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA, said things are beginning to change at the hospital due to the decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“We are trying to really accommodate our patients and their loved ones by loosing some of the visitation restrictions as our COVID numbers are declining,” said Lamanteer.

Dr. Weis agreed, saying NWTH is beginning to do the same.

“We put a single chair out in the lobby,” said Weis, who has frequently said he looks forward to the day when all furniture can be put back where it belongs.

The drop in hospitalizations is likely due to vaccinations and herd immunity, according to the health experts in today’s news conference.

To emphasize the importance of mask wearing, Dr. Weis said influenza has virtually disappeared this season.

“All these things we’re doing for COVID-19, are they working? We’ve tested 3,000 specimens for influenza and have had zero positives,” he said.

The five-day new case average for the City of Amarillo is 72 cases of COVID-19 per day.

City Manager Jared Miller said the city’s Level Red status, which urges extreme caution due to COVID-19 cases, will likely be changing.

“We will very likely move from condition red to condition orange next week,” said Miller.

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