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North Texas First Responders, Healthcare System Strained By COVID-19 Omicron Surge

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - As the COVID-19 omicron variant continues to surge in North Texas, first responders and healthcare systems are strained.

Since last November, the number of suspected COVID-19-positive patients MedStar is treating per day has more than doubled to 150.

"If we get to 200 a day & our workforce is depleted this could be very difficult for our community," spokesperson Matt Zavadsky said. "Our own work force, we've had 13, 20 people out at a time with coronavirus."

With the spread of the -micron variant a country-wide issue, the ability to bring in reinforcements from other areas might not be an option weeks from now, he said.

Other changes might need to be made.

"Not every 911 call maybe needs an ambulance response, not every patient who calls 911 needs to go to the emergency room and really analyze and triage those patients well and treat patients at home, treat patients at alternate destinations so that we don't overwhelm the healthcare system," he said.

Dr. Jay Herd, Chief Medical Officer at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center Fort Worth, says even right now, more resources are needed.

"We're getting some state funded RAC nurses starting tomorrow," Herd said. "I'm sure we will start getting some more traveling nurses since the East Coast like New York is on a down swing."

By the end of the month, UT Southwestern is predicting we could see 10,000 COVID-19 infections per day in Dallas County. Hospitalizations doubling.

In Tarrant County, 8,000 COVID infections per day. Also doubling in hospitalizations.

Dr. Mark Casanova with the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force says if healthcare systems find themselves in this position they'll look at crisis standards of care which could mean taking care of two patients in one room.

"It's going to be hospitals flexing to the greatest extent possible, more than they already have flexed," he said. "Care systems collaborating and working together like they've done quite diligently and effectively here in North Texas to help the common good. We're going to do as much as we can we need the public to do their part."

He stresses the importance of getting vaccinated or a booster if you qualify and recommends mask wearing in public.

An N95 mask optimal for protection against the omicron variant, he said.

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