Parkland: Dramatic Increase in Hospitalizations; COVID-19 Patients Mostly Unvaccinated

Parkland staff is preparing to open two more COVID-19 wards by the end of this week

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With the rise in COVID-19 cases, Parkland Hospital system in Dallas is seeing its patient load double in just the last four days.

"It's a bad situation," Parkland's chief medical officer, Dr. Joseph Chang told NBC 5.

Chang said the numbers are going in the wrong direction.

Last Thursday, Parkland reported around 35 active COVID patients. Over the weekend, it doubled to over 70 by Monday night, including 40 convalescent patients.

The hospital said staff is preparing to open two more COVID-19 wards by the end of this week.

Dr. Chang said most of the COVID-19 patients ending up in the hospital are unvaccinated.

"What is undeniable, the ones with the more severe disease, the ones in the ICU, the ones needing that type of care – are going to be well over 90% unvaccinated. Listen, guys, vaccination may not be perfect. There may be more breakthrough cases. However, even breakthrough cases are most likely to be less severe and less likely to land you in my ICU,” he said.

Parkland Hospital experienced a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in just a matter of days. We spoke with Parkland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Chang. We talked about the surge and the new variant that is likely causing the spike.

Dr. Chang said the silver lining here is that the omicron variant is milder than delta for some but the problem is it spreads faster and more easily. He added the situation is only going to evolve in the next month.

"The good thing about omicron is that it seems that a lesser percentage of those affected need to be admitted to the hospital. However, because it transmits itself so well, we anticipate that the overall case numbers are going to be a lot higher. Even though a lesser percentage is going to be hospitalized, that's still going to result in an absolute high number to be admitted in the hospital," he said. "It's unpredictable obviously, on where that peak is going to be. We anticipate that it will be two or three weeks from now but we don't know what level we're talking about."

Monoclonal Antibody Treatments Not Available Until January

Additionally, Texas infusion centers — including one in Fort Worth — have all run out of the monoclonal antibody effective against omicron. Healthcare leaders are reporting a national shortage and that there won't be another shipment of it from the federal government until January.

"People who had appointments scheduled this week will be contacted directly and advised. Other monoclonal antibodies have not shown to be effective against the Omicron variant, which now accounts for more than 90 percent of new cases," the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a written statement. "The infusion centers will continue to offer those antibodies as prescribed by health care providers for people diagnosed with a non-Omicron case of COVID-19."

The statement went on to say, "Everyone should protect themselves from severe COVID-19 by getting vaccinated as soon as possible, getting a booster as soon as they are eligible, and continuing to take precautions to prevent being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 and spreading it to others."

Texas Sky Ranger flew over several COVID-19 testing sites as long lines stretched into the street.

High Demand for COVID-19 Tests

It's also still extremely difficult to get a COVID-19 test right now, as lines are long around North Texas.

For example, Neighborhood Medical Center in North Dallas is testing an average of between 700 and 800 people a day, seven days a week. That's compared to just 40 or 50 tests a day before this spike in demand.

In many testing sites, people are waiting up to three hours or more to get a COVID-19 test.

In an effort to keep up with the demand for COVID-19 tests, the city of Fort Worth has opened two new testing sites, now open every Tuesday and Thursday.

Because of the demand, the city of Fort Worth has opened two new testing sites, now open every Tuesday and Thursday in addition to week-long locations throughout the city:

Forth Worth ISD Scarborough-Handley Fieldhouse
8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday/Thursday
6201 Craig Street
Fort Worth, TX

Como Community Center
1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday
4660 Horne St
Fort Worth, TX

Click here to find resources on where to get a COVID test in North Texas.

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