WATCH: City of Amarillo hosts COVID-19 meeting as flu season looms, virus cases rise


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The City of Amarillo held a conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday to brief the community on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has remained at Alert Status Level ‘Red’, and some health leaders expect a “much more significant” flu season to be incoming alongside the continuing virus spread.

The City of Amarillo reported a 273 per-day case average for COVID-19 in the area, with 41% of people over 12 years old fully vaccinated in Potter County, and 42% in Randall County.

The City also advised that the incoming report card for Wednesday would include up to 22 deaths from COVID-19 because of general delays involving death certificate processing. However, officials also made clear that while those deaths were not overnight, they were from within the last week.

The Northwest Texas Healthcare System (NWTHS) reported 56 current hospitalized patients with COVID-19, with 54 of that total not vaccinated. 29 of those patients are in the ICU, 18 reported to be on ventilators. The hospital also reported 9 deaths since the beginning of September, and 24 general holds as patients wait for available beds.

The BSA Healthcare System reported 77 patients hospitalized from COVID-19, with 35 of those on ventilators. 89% of those patients, according to the hospital, were not vaccinated.

The VA Healthcare system reported 6 patients hospitalized from COVID-19, with four in the ICU and one on a ventilator.

Health leaders highlighted the total of 48 COVID-19 patients on ventilators in Amarillo, and 64 patients having visited the respiratory triage center in the last 24 hours; a rate at the triage called “disturbing” in light of flu season not having yet properly started.

In another grim highlight, health leaders mentioned that a lapse in rising hospital numbers may not be fully to a lack of patients, but in part because of the death rate of COVID-19 and its variants.

Regarding pediatric patients, numbers of children being infected with COVID-19, RSV, and numerous other respiratory viruses were reported to be rising by health leaders. While no children were reported to be currently hospitalized from COVID-19, health leaders mentioned that children sick at home and needing care impact the workforce by possibly keeping nurses and other professionals from helping those in need of critical care at the hospitals.

While vaccination, masking, and social distancing practices remained the dominant plea among health leaders, monoclonal antibody treatments such as Regeneron were reported with high regard. While recent requests for extra infusion centers in Amarillo have yet to be answered, doctors nevertheless advised that the qualifications for treatments such as Regeneron were broad. Primary physicians, they argued, were more likely to try and give a COVID-19 patient such a therapy than not.

However, on that note, Dr. Lamanteer commented that “Ivermectin does not work against COVID-19. Period.” Lamanteer heavily advised staying away from the treatment mostly for animals, citing the lack of evidence toward its use in treating or preventing COVID-19.

Health officials continued to encourage vaccination as a broader solution for the pandemic. The delta variant’s surge prompted officials to warn it is “going to be the trend of this virus” to mutate until there is a sufficient number of the population immune.

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