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Will there be enough ICU beds? Hospitals brace for another post-holiday COVID surge

The arrival of the omicron variant, just in time for the Christmas holidays, has hospital administrators warning about yet another post-holiday surge of COVID c
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:51 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The arrival of the omicron variant, just in time for the Christmas holidays, has hospital administrators warning about yet another post-holiday surge of COVID cases.

Five days before Christmas and Louisville-area hospitals report holding steady after a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID cases.

However, the need to get vaccinated has been amplified by concerns over the new, more transmissible omicron variant.

“We’re already tight for beds, and this is going to make this situation even more concerning for us,” Dr. Jason Smith, UofL Health Chief Medical Officer (CMO) said. “I will tell you that my biggest concern is that we need to be able to try and get through this holiday season.”

The New York Times published a map showing a shrinking availability of ICU beds, reporting 80 percent of the nation’s ICU beds occupied. The map shows almost all hospitals from New Albany to Lexington marked in shades of red and orange for at least 90 percent of ICU beds filled.

“I am very concerned that if omicron does what it is doing in England,” Dr. Chuck Anderson, Baptist Health Louisville CMO said, “that we will see a marked uptick of our patients at our hospitals and especially non-vaccinated patients in our intensive care units.”

On Monday, Anderson said all COVID patients in the Baptist Health Louisville ICU had not been vaccinated. All but one of the COVID patients in the UofL ICU had not been vaccinated, according to Smith.

Norton Healthcare CMO Steven Hester said 80 percent of Norton’s COVID ICU patients had not been vaccinated.

“There’s a real value in doing that,” Hester said. “Particularly, while the vaccine will not stop everyone from getting COVID, it certainly decreases your risk of hospitalization and death.”

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