Omicron Variant

North Texas Hospitals Prepare for Biggest Surge Yet

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By the end of this month, COVID-19 hospitalizations are expected to surpass those seen at any other point throughout the pandemic. That’s according to the latest forecast from researchers at UT Southwestern.

Already across the region, the DFW Hospital Council reports COVID patients occupy 20% of all available beds and about a third of those in ICUs.

Hospital staff is spread thinner than in any previous surge according to the council’s President and CEO Stephen Love.

"Our emergency rooms are full. We've got people that we're holding in the emergency room waiting to get a bed in the hospital,” said Love.

He said they’d make more available if they could but that it’s not possible in many hospitals with anywhere from 10 to 15% of staff out due to sick calls.

Today, he said news that the state will send 1,000 traveling nurses, respiratory therapists and clinicians over the next few days means some relief. 

"I'll leave Sunday to be ready to report Monday morning,” said registered nurse Misty Smith.

Smith is coming from Tyler to Methodist Dallas.

She left her own full-time career due to the burnout, time away from her son and low compensation she now hopes to relieve others from.

"It's very taxing on the body. It's taxing on the mind. Nurses, we typically work three to four shifts in a normal setting. We're working five, six, seven days a week, picking up night shifts and mid shifts just to help out, taking time away from our family so we can serve the community,” said Smith.

Love said while they’re grateful for the help, more will be needed.

With omicrons peak still expected to be a few weeks away, he urges people to do what they can to stop the spread by continuing to mask and distance and most importantly, by getting vaccinated.

"The sooner we do that. The quicker we get away from omicron,” said Love.

According to the DFW Hospital Council, the vast majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated.

A recent Texas Health and Human Services study found that unvaccinated people are 20 times more likely to die from the virus.

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