Hospitals ‘can’t handle’ rising case rate | Watch Amarillo’s COVID-19 briefing for Nov. 25


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The City of Amarillo gave an update on the COVID-19 pandemic at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

During the briefing, Mayor Ginger Nelson revealed that she and her husband have both tested positive for COVID-19. She described that her husband was tested after experiencing mild symptoms last week.

City officials continue to plead for locals to practice social distancing and good hygiene, and to be mindful of risk going into the holiday season.

The City of Amarillo remains at Level Red status, reissued again today by city officials. The Panhandle has been over %15 RAC Hospitalization Rate for over a month. As of yesterday, Amarillo stood at 39.35% of all hospitalizations being cases of COVID-19.

The local hospitalization rate is at 4.3%, meaning 4.3% of all COVID-19 cases require hospitalization.

Northwest Texas Healthcare (NWTH) reports 112 positive cases of COVID-19. 44 of these patients are currently in the ICU, 23 of whom are on ventilators. 2/3rds of the total ventilator usage are currently for COVID-19 patients. The hospital also reports 127 staff members in quarantine.

The BSA Health System reports 186 positive COVID-19 patients. 85 of these cases are reported to be in the ICU, with 48 on ventilators. There are 53 total ventilators in use. There are also currently 153 RAC nurses at BSA, a number that officials worry are fluid and inconsistent and will need to be shared with other parts of the state in coming days.

The VA Hospital reports 18 positive cases of COVID-19. 8 of these patients are in the ICU. Although the number may seem small, it is reported that over 50% of total VA patients are COVID-19 positive. 7 patients are non-veterans, 3 of whom are in the ICU, with 11 total non-veterans treated so far.

Dr. Weis of NWTH described his gratitude for the city ordinance that passed on Monday, saying “I support that ordinance. I think it’s critical for us to be able to reel this virus in in our community.” that watching the meeting, he continued to say it, “Reminded me very much of when they were trying to ban smoking from bars, and it remains a concern.”

Dr. Lamanteer of BSA stated that Amarillo has the highest hospitalization rate in Texas, surpassing even El Paso in terms of cases and the rate of the rise of the hospitalization rate.

All local hospitals report a higher number of deaths this month, in some cases doubling the amount of deaths from October.

“A mask is not a big ask,” says Dr. Lamanteer, “but it has a big impact.”

Overall, officials worry about facilities’ capacity, and ability to handle the holiday season through both space and employee resources.

Normally, hospitalizations for high blood pressure and sodium-related issues rise around Thanksgiving, say the officials. Currently, however, critical care patients are needing to wait for beds and even after being discharged, COVID-19 patients are returning to the hospitals later on with symptoms or generally worsening conditions.

The hospitals also say they are seeing blood clots in post-COVID-19 patients, alongside the general rate of readmissions.

Health officials state a fear that the system will be unable to handle another month similar to the previous, with a consistently rising hospitalization rate. There is a worry that the system could be near breaking.

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