Amarillo health experts concerned about increase in COVID-19 cases during holiday season

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 11:47 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Area health experts say hospitals are caring for nearly half the number of COVID-19 patients as they were last December, but fear an upward trend in admissions over the last couple of months could continue during the holiday season.

“We’re still getting caught up on reporting on those cases that were actually diagnosed during the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Amarillo Public Health Authority Dr. Todd Bell.

Although area hospitals expected to lose their RAC nurses at the end of November, state officials allowed some to stay and help area hospitals battle high patient numbers and a low number of staff.

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, the chief medical officer at BSA, said the hospital is at the highest census today that he’s seen “in a while.”

BSA is currently caring for 31 COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit, and two pediatric patients.

Apart from an increase in case numbers during the holiday season, health experts said they are concerned with gathering information on the newest COVID-19 variant, Omicron.

“The easiest and frankly safest thing to say is that we simply don’t have enough information,” said Dr. Bell.

The variant has yet to be confirmed in the United States, but has spread in Africa.

Dr. Bell said it’s unclear at this time how well the existing COVID-19 vaccines and prior infection will perform against the variant.

He said the majority of cases have been reported as “relatively mild”, but many of those cases were in children who ordinarily experience milder COVID-19 infections.

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