Amarillo health officials: COVID-19 cases not increasing dramatically

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Wednesday’s City of Amarillo COVID-19 press conference included new information about where we stand in our fight against the virus.

We are not quite bending the curve yet, but according to our health officials and city leaders, new cases are not growing drastically. Both Northwest Texas Hospital and BSA Hospital said they are not seeing huge increases in cases and are not close to a surge at this point.

Casie Stoughton, the Amarillo Public Health Department Director, said even the mobile testing site has plateaued and they are seeing steady numbers of people coming in for testing.

The same is true at hospitals, where they are still only testing symptomatic patients—but those health officials say it is hard to know when the Amarillo area will see its peak number of cases.

Dr. Brian Weis, the chief medical officer at NWTH, said most of the projection models are based on experiences in large cities across Texas with dense populations.

“So, the question is how much do they apply to an area like West Texas where we don’t have people living on top of each other,” Dr. Weis said. “I think at this point, optimally, maybe end of April but I think into May is very possible based on some of the models.”

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, the chief medical officer at BSA Hospital said he agrees with Dr. Weis. He said those projections are based on how long we plan to practice social distancing and if that end date changes, so does our peak.

All three hospitals, NWTH, BSA and the VA hospital, said they have staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 but those hospitals say there is just a handful, and they have detailed processes for safely reintroducing them back into the workforce.

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said she knows plenty of people are looking to get the city back open, but whenever that happens, it will happen gradually.

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