WATCH: City hosts first COVID-19 briefing since May amid rising cases

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Amid rising case numbers of COVID-19 and changing CDC guidelines regarding masking in certain areas, the City of Amarillo held its first COVID-19 briefing in months at 11 a.m on Wednesday.

According to the Amarillo Public Health Department (APH), there have been 35,695 total cases of COVID-19 in Potter and Randall Counties, and a total of 744 deaths. There are currently 852 total active cases reported, an addition of around 298 since July began with an average of 81 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

With Amarillo remaining at Status Level Orange, the Area Hospitalization Rate was noted at 5.84%.

The Amarillo Civic Center is set to remain hosting the APH vaccine clinic until Aug. 6, at which point it will move to the Public Health Department building. With cases rising in the High Plains, all health officials encouraged the population to get vaccinated, and listen to CDC guidelines on masking and social distancing.

Northwest Texas Healthcare System’s (NWTHS) Dr. Brian Weis expressed disappointment and concern regarding COVID-19 rates in the area, commenting that the numbers “are all going in the wrong direction,” during his statement in the briefing.

NWTHS reported 19 patients hospitalized currently with COVID-19, with four in the ICU and one on a ventilator. Five patients were reported to have died in the hospital from COVID-19 during July. Dr. Weis noted that these numbers are a stark increase from a 0% positivity rate the hospital witnessed in June.

BSA Healthcare’s Dr. Michael Lamanteer reported that the hospital is in a “significantly worse state” than a few weeks ago, with 53 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19. At least 20 are currently in the ICU, with five patients waiting on beds. Dr. Lamanteer also noted that the patients have been seen across “all walks of life” and all age ranges.

Dr. Lamanteer credited the current surge to both the Delta variant of COVID-19, along with other health officials, and also the “sub-optimal” vaccination rate in the Amarillo area of under 40%.

The VA’s Dr. Rodney Gonzalez reported that out of the four earlier this week, the hospital is currently seeing one patient hospitalized from COVID-19.

Across the board, health officials continue to encourage the population to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if able. The overwhelming majority of all hospitalized COVID-19 cases around the area have been patients who were not vaccinated.

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