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BCS doctors describe what intensifying Omicron surge looks like in their hospitals

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:43 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Local doctors say they’re seeing more and more patients come into their hospitals with each passing week, evidence that they say this current surge fueled by the Omicron variant is only intensifying.

The good news is some health officials say the surge Texas is experiencing right now should peak sometime next week, but until that happens, healthcare providers continue to face all kinds of challenges.

“We’ve been about two years into this pandemic and it feels like Groundhog Day,” St. Joseph Health Chief Medical Officer Kia Parsi said. “We have another surge in admissions to our hospital through COVID-positive patients, again straining our healthcare organization. But this isn’t the first time we’ve done this, and we have the experience to handle this new wave.”

Doctors say this current Omicron surge resembles the one they experienced last winter. Local hospitals are full once again, and there have yet to be signs of it letting up.

“We are seeing significantly more admissions this week than last week, last week than the week before,” Parsi said. “When it peaks and starts to dissipate, I wish I knew.”

Dr. John Davidhizar with Integrity Urgent Care says it’s like they’re seeing the entire curve of patients from other surges all at once.

“The cases that we’re seeing on a daily basis here in Brazos County are close to 800, whereas with the Delta variant, we were seeing maybe 375 on average,” Davidhizer said. “With the spike that we had this time last year, we were only seeing about 180 cases on average per day.”

Davidhizar says it’s a factor of two or three times more patients getting sick at the same time.

“I’ve read that this Omicron variant may be spreading as fast as 70 times faster than the Delta variant did,” Davidhizer said. “Fortunately, so far it looks a little bit more mild, but there’s a lot of patients who are getting sick at the same time. They want to be tested, get evaluated, and get their questions answered, so it’s tough. We only have so many resources here locally.”

Parsi says St. Joseph’s emergency rooms are full with very sick patients, so anyone without severe illness symptoms looking to get tested should look for avenues outside of an emergency room to get tested. He says those individuals can contact their primary care physician to find a test or schedule an appointment at St. Joseph’s respiratory clinic.

While more data is still needed before it can be confirmed, Parsi says current evidence indicates Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness and death. But with so many people getting infected, it’s anyone’s guess when hospitalizations will ease.

“We’ve seen with the previous surges, the models change as we get more data,” Parsi said. “I had seen some earlier models that said end of January. Some of the newer models are saying middle of February, so I don’t know if we can really predict how long this surge will last.”

Parsi says that’s just one of many reasons people need to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Continue to wear masks in environments where you may have exposure, social distancing as much as you can, and receiving the vaccine and now the booster as available really are the ways to help us combat this pandemic,” Parsi said.

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