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Health leaders say we have not seen the peak for omnicron

Surgery postponements expected as variant spreads across southern Arizona
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 7:02 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 8:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Health leaders in Arizona said we have not seen the worst of the omicron variant just yet.

“We still have a ways to go with this variant until it’s done with its surge in our hospitals,” said Banner Health Clinical Chief Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel.

She said hospitalizations across the state have been on the rise since the first of the year because of the rapid spread of omicron.

“We are not yet at the omicron peak,” Bessel said. “That is likely going to occur in the upcoming weeks.”

Right now, a third of Banner’s beds are in use by COVID patients and 90% of those patients are unvaccinated.

“What we do know is that the number of cases that are going to be diagnosed in Arizona is going to continue to increase,” she said. “We do expect an increase in hospitalizations.”

The rapid spread of omicron throughout the state is having a domino effect on staffing.

“Due to the prevalence of COVID in our community, our workers are also getting sick with the virus this has (added) further strain on our hospital settings,” Bessel said.

The staffing shortages are extending beyond the emergency room and hospitals and into urgent care facilities.

“We have had to temporarily close some of our urgent cares because of staff availability,” Bessel said. “This has resulted in longer wait times at urgent cares that do remain open. "

Since we are still weeks away from the peak, Banner is asking the public to remain patient and begging that each person does their part.

“You can help us not reach that breaking point,” she said. “Please get vaccinated if you have not yet done so. If you’re ready for a booster and haven’t gotten one please do. Wear a well-fitting mask like a KN95 and if you are feeling ill, stay home.”

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