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COVID-19 surge overwhelms hospitals nationwide

The surge in coronavirus cases paired with cases of the common cold, flu and strep throat has become a tough combination for hospitals to deal with

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Emergency entrance of the Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The emergency entrance of the Kootenai Health 330-bed community-owned hospital is seen in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Sept. 10, 2021.

Young Kwak, Associated Press

Clinics and urgent care centers are facing a surge of patients as more staffers call out sick from the super contagious coronavirus variant, omicron, per The Associated Press.

  • “We have more to worry about than hospitalizations,” said Dr. David Peterman, a pediatrician and the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group in southwestern Idaho, per the report.
  • “We’re seeing record numbers in our clinics, and we have 38 of our employees out sick. If primary care doctors cannot see their patients for their hypertension, for sore throats, for diabetes, then we’re in trouble.”

The problem isn’t limited to Idaho, though.

  • According to the AP, Dr. Laura Byerly, the chief medical officer with Virginia Garcia Memorial Medical Center in northwestern Oregon, is transitioning back to the telehealth model as more of her staffers get infected.
  • “We have to do a lot more telemedicine visits than face-to-face because we don’t have the staff to handle the bodies in the building,” Byerly said. “It’s heartbreaking because so much care has been deferred because of previous telehealth needs. We’re quite worried.”

Early data suggests that the omicron variant leads to a less severe illness and, in turn, fewer hospitalizations, according to the Deseret News. But health care workers aren’t likely to get any respite as the demand for testing rises along with cases of cold, strep throat, influenza and COVID-19 patients who require some level of care.