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Southeast Texas health officials handling COVID-19 surge differently as they prepare for omicron peak

Health officials said even with an overwhelming surge, things aren't as bad here at the hospitals.

BEAUMONT, Texas — COVID-19 has put a strain on our hospitals again. 113 people are battling the virus in Jefferson County hospitals. That's up three patients from Wednesday, but it's more than double where we were two weeks ago. And the worst may still come.

Health officials said even with an overwhelming surge, things aren't as bad here at the hospitals. 

A sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Texas may have you wondering how hospitals are holding up.

“We are seeing the most contagious variant of coronavirus,” said Dr. Qamar Afreen with Baptist Hospitals. “We definitely know omicron is a milder disease is a little bit different than delta variant we definitely see less sicker patients.”

Arfeen said they're not in bad shape.

“We have about six or seven patients on the ventilator,” Arfeen said.

But he admited things could go downhill within the next few weeks, causing the number of patients on ventilators to rise.

“We're expecting to have more in next couple of weeks as the peak,” Arfeen said. “It has nothing as even close to what we saw with Delta variant. When we literally were down to our last, when [it] was almost 50 patients on the ventilator, when we were at the peak.

It’s a peak that many health officials are bracing for, Katy Kiser with CHRISTUS tells 12News. 

"We remain in a constant readiness state, utilizing every available resource to ensure we have the staffing, equipment, and supplies that could be needed to meet all the health care needs of the communities we serve," Kiser said.

“We already been prepared all along we have the game plan in place we know what to do if we have more patients,” Arfeen said.

Dr. Arfeen said if the hospitalization rates go up they don't anticipate problems with staffing thanks to new CDC guidelines.

“So one good thing which CDC did is to decrease the quarantine period to five days so we can have the staff back a lot sooner rather than having them out for 10 days,” Arfeen said.

Health officials still want you to remain vigilant.

“Even though it is broadcasted that this is a mild virus, we still have to take it seriously,” Arfeen said.

Arfeen said it's important to remember you don't want this virus to get ahead of you.

If you start having severe symptoms or shortness of breath, you should go to the hospital as soon as possible.

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