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‘It’s coming, it’s only a matter of time’: Hospitals prepare for potential increase in COVID-19 cases

Hospitals across the region are preparing incase cases rise again

Local hospitals across the region are preparing for a rise in COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant.

ROANOKE, Va – Local hospitals are preparing to face a potential rise in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s coming. It’s only a matter of time and it’s already been identified in many other states. I suspect we will have quite a larger influx over the next few weeks,” said SOVAH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan.

LewisGale Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Muddasar Chaudry said areas with low vaccination rates could be at high risk.

“There’s a large number of populations that’s hesitant to take the vaccine and unfortunately, even that happens, and that’s what happened in South Africa,” explained Chaudry.

Children and the elderly are likely most at risk. While vaccinations are helping, hospitals are seeing some breakthrough cases.

“Lately we have been seeing the children and grandchildren before bringing the action into the household and they themselves are not getting terribly sick but the elders who are vaccinated and did their part, it’s been a few months since they got the vaccine, they end up getting sick and end up in the hospitals,” Chaudry said.

Leaders at Sovah Health are looking at ways to combat an influx of cases and its impact on hospital workers.

“They’re facing another uphill battle potentially and we’ll have our boots ready to continue to fight this fight,” Gunn-Nolan said.

And as the holidays get closer, the health community agrees that now is not the time to ease precautions.

“It’s definitely not time to let your guard down. Definitely going back to the basics: social distancing, masking indoors and avoidance of large gatherings,” Chaudry said.

The infectious disease expert at LewisGale said they are looking at the efficacy of the vaccines on the variant across the world, but if it is low, there is a chance a new vaccine would need to be produced in the next few months.

LewisGale also released this statement below: “Like the rest of the medical community, we continue to learn about new COVID-19 variants and the unique challenges each one presents in our ongoing effort to protect the communities served by LewisGale Medical Center. As we have done throughout the pandemic we continue to follow CDC guidance and adjust our approach as necessary and continue to deliver the best evidence-based care and counsel to our patients. For anybody concerned about how to protect themselves from the Omicron variant, we recommend speaking with your health care provider about vaccines, masking and other measures that can reduce the spread of this and other variants.”


About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.