RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In hospitals across the Triangle, a surge in the omicron variant in COVID-19 cases is leading to beds filling up, workers getting sick and operations changing to meet the need of hundreds of patients now coming in with the latest variant.
Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist with Duke University Hospital, said he believes “post-Christmas omicron” cases are driving the recent surge in COVID-19 admissions.
“There is good now discussion and data to support this being a little more mild for you as an individual if you get sick, particularly if you’re appropriately vaccinated and boosted,” Wolfe said. “However, the sheer weight of numbers of who are getting sick at the moment means that for a hospital system that completely overpowers us.”
As of Thursday night, 115 COVIDpatients filled beds at Duke University Hospital, that’s nearly twice the number of hospitalizations from last week.
Anyone who works at Duke must be vaccinated or have an exemption. However, Wolfe said that 650 staffers across Duke Health have also tested positive for the virus.
“We are going to be strained in the next couple of weeks to provide regular service because of the number of people who are sick, both in terms of patients filling beds with COVID and also in terms of our own employees who will be unsafe to man those beds,” Wolfe said.
Other hospitals are feeling the surge too. UNC Health is reporting 345 Covid hospitalizations, up from a low of 77 on Nov. 20.
“We continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and boosted, and to keep wearing masks,” UNC Health spokesperson Alan Wolf said in a statement. “Those are the most important tools we have to avoid hospitalization, serious illness and death. We urge residents of North Carolina to help ease the strain on the state’s hospital systems.”
WakeMed currently has 101 patients hospitalized. Officials there say 86 percent of those patients are unvaccinated.
Dr. Wolfe said he’s expecting rising cases to continue.
“I am very nervous that in the next couple of weeks, particularly the next one week, to be blunt, we are going to run out of beds,” Wolfe said. “These sorts of surges impact not only people who’ve caught COVID, but also folks who are just needing regular health care.”
He says if that happens, staff could be moved away from non-COVID units and elective surgeries impacted.