MIDLAND, Texas — As medical leaders expected, there's another COVID-19 surge after the holidays. However, this time around there is a new variant attached to it.
Health leaders across the United States are seeing spikes in the number of hospitalizations and the number of people testing positive for the virus.
The current COVID-19 surge after the holidays has started to have an impact on our local hospitals.
Medical Center Hospital is reporting 47 total COVID-19 patients, while Midland Memorial Hospital reporting 62 patients hospitalized with the virus.
As of Tuesday there have not been any official cases reported of the omicron variant. Hospital leaders are sounding the alarm due to the high transmission rates and the less severe cases that are noticeable in the community.
"So far this week, 51% of people who have been tested in our Midland Health testing sites have been positive," said Russell Meyers, Chief Executive Officer for MMH. "Last week, we had 492 positive tests, so about 41% of those were positive. That's the single most biggest week of positives since last January."
Meyers said that the rapid transmissibility rate of the virus is taking a toll on their health care workers as well.
"As the highly transmissible omicron variant continues, we are seeing a lot of infection among our staff," said Meyers. "By now we have 70 people, seven zero, who are positive, currently quarantined. We have another 40 who have been exposed and they are continuing to work while being monitored."
As hospital resources run thin, there is one piece of good news tied to omicron, according to Meyers.
"We are seeing less severe of the disease which is also consistent with the theory that this is the omicron variant," said Meyers. "Fewer patients hospitalized and fewer of the hospitalized ending up in critical care. It's a different situation, but still very serious. It's more transmissible, but less severe."
Hospital leaders continue to emphasize the importance of the same COVID-19 precautions that were in place at the beginning of the pandemic like mask-wearing, hand washing and sanitizing and getting vaccinated.