Local health experts provide update as the High Plains see an increase in COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In the state of Texas, coronavirus hospitalizations and infections are on the rise, according to the Texas Department Of State Health Services.

Here locally on the High Plains, we are seeing an increase as well. This, after the Delta variant, was first detected locally about three weeks ago.

Casie Stoughton, director of the Amarillo Public Health Department said the city is seeing an increase in COVID-19. She added that it is important to get a vaccine, but if you don’t, continue to wear your mask in public around other people.

Chief Medical Officer with Northwest Texas Hospital, Dr. Brian Weis said these current trends are concerning, as they went from somewhere between one to three patients to double digits.

“The rise in activity in over the last ten days is very concerning and within a month now we are going to be having children going back to school, so I think we will know in the next couple of weeks whether we are heading for the logarithmic spread that you see a lot with these viruses,” said Dr. Weis.

According to the Texas Department Of State Health Services, 37% are fully vaccinated that are 12 and older in Potter County. For those who are 65 and older that number is about 70%. About 40% that are 12 and older are fully vaccinated in Randall County, while a little more than 68% of those that are 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Weis said they have three fully vaccinated individuals that have tested positive at NWTH for COVID-19, but he said the vaccine is still the best method to protect yourself from the virus.

“Yes, we are seeing some breakthrough cases with the vaccine, but in terms of the best strategy to stop the reproduction of the virus is to get as many people to be as vaccinated as possible,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Weis said if the High Plains sees a significant surge in cases again, they will have to reconfigure how they operate at the hospital.

BSA Health System told us they currently have 23 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, seeing an increase from 17 patients last week, and an increase from two weeks ago when they had nine. They added they had adequate staffing to care for patients.

Dr. Weis said according to experts, 80% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States are related to the Delta variant and that younger people are getting sick with the Delta variant.

“It does seem to really affect younger people. We have had as young as an eight-month-old with COVID come in the last two weeks, but I think the bigger concern is that these kids will spread it amongst the school and then take it home to their parents and their family that maybe more vulnerable to the virus itself,” said Dr. Weis.

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