Local hospitals seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients

NOW: Local hospitals seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind --- Hospitals across both Michigan and Indiana, including local hospitals hit hard by the pandemic again. Beds are filling up and staff are overwhelmed, and officials believe the more contagious Omicron variant coupled with post-holiday gatherings could only make things worse.

Nearly 3,000 Hoosiers are currently hospitalized with COVID statewide.

Locally, the St. Joseph Health System said they saw 51 patients with COVID related symptoms on Monday alone.

“Unfortunately, again we are still experiencing a surge of COVID hospital admissions,” said Dr. Jen Lankowicz, the Chief Clinical Officer for St. Joseph Health System.

Dr. Lankowicz said like so many others,  their hospitals are still being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

“They are doing their best at what they do best and that is caring for patients that are ill and need them you know, but it’s exhausting and they are stretched to the limits,” she added. “We find ourselves having to limit some of what we’re doing because staff needs to do the tasks associated with our pandemic care.”

The health system said 80 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 65 of them are unvaccinated.

Similar to Beacon Health System who said nearly 80% of its COVID patients haven’t rolled up their sleeve yet.

“What we’re seeing is that the people who are ill enough to stay in the hospital by in large unvaccinated, but there is a percent, a significant percent perhaps 20-30% who did receive their first series of vaccinations, but have not received their booster,” explained Lankowicz.

With local hospitals already battling staffing shortages and the more contagious Omicron variant, coupled with post-holiday gatherings sparking surge concerns, officials stressed the importance of vaccines and being vigilant.

“There’s a lot of things that we can’t do, but the one thing that we can do is to continue to wear a mask, wash our hands, social distance when you can and if you’re are eligible to get the vaccine, the booster is now something that we can offer,” said Ranae Obregon, the Director of Business Health Services for the health system, who's currently helping run local vaccine clinics.

Now officials have urged those who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms not to go into the Emergency Room unless those symptoms are severe. They urged people to call their primary care physician or go to urgent care instead.

A list of local testing sites and vaccines clinics can be found below.

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