Doctors discuss increasing COVID hospitalizations and thoughts on a potential peak

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 7:49 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2022 at 9:43 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -As we get closer to that two-year anniversary of the first COVID case in the Magnolia State, hospitals say they’re not feeling any relief. In fact, the number of COVID patients keeps rising.

The numbers suggest this Omicron wave hasn’t been much different than Delta in the way of hospitalizations. Patients with confirmed cases are still being admitted.

“The intensity of the very worst is just as bad,” said Dr. Mark Horne, past president of the Mississippi State Medical Association. “The overall intensity seems to be a little bit better.”

But there are some nuances that the numbers alone don’t reveal. Singing River Health Systems made this note.

“I thought we saw a little bit of a decline on Friday, but this morning, walked into 111 positive patients that are three hospitals,” said Dr. Randy Roth, Singing River Health System Chief Medical Officer. “But of those, probably 40% are there for a different reason. So they had gallbladder out and acute appendicitis. They had a scheduled surgery, then we swapped them to keep our employees safe, and they’re positive. So the total number of hospitalizations with COVID is a little bit misleading.”

On the flip side of that, Dr. Steve Threlkeld notes that there’s a likely undercount of cases given that at-home tests are not included in those totals.

“And that makes it harder to be accurate of when that peak occurs,” said Threlkeld, Baptist Memorial Health Care Medical Director of Infectious Disease. “But even when it does occur, you may be a couple of weeks down the road from seeing the peak and hospitalization.”

Speaking of peak, doctors say they don’t think we’ve seen the worst just yet, especially in hospitalizations.

“We’re optimistic that we’re approaching something that resembles a peak, but we don’t know. A peak is something we will know after we’ve passed it,” noted Horne. “We will look back and say, ‘oh, that was the peak.’ So are we concerned about even higher hospitalization numbers? Yes.”

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods,” added Roth. “I mean, everything I’m reading and looking at, based on my experience, I think it will be another 10 days before we’re gonna see the plateau and then the decline. And then after that, hopefully, we can kind of get back to normal. But we’ve said that before, but really haven’t reached our new normal yet.”

Dr. Threlkeld says if there is a silver lining, it is that more people are soon to have at least partial immunity, whether from getting the virus or having the vaccine. And that could help us get back to that sense of normal if more variants stay at bay.

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