St. Louis Area Hospitals Experience Acceleration of Record COVID Cases from Omicron Variant

    By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology

    St. Louis area hospitals experience a record number of COVID patients from the omicron variant, while bracing for an overwhelming number of cases in the coming weeks.

    The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported more than 1,100 hospitalizations in the first week of January and climbing, saying it’s the nightmare scenario they feared.

    “The scary part of this situation is the number of patients coming in and needing hospitalizations is challenging our ability to provide care to everybody that needs care,” said Jason Newland, MD, MEd, pediatric infectious diseases physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Right now, we have stopped doing elective surgeries. Many of the adult hospitals are not going to do an elective surgery. So you might think that that’s not really that big a deal? Well, yeah! Think about maybe your grandparents who need a total hip replacement or a knee replacement because they hurt so bad. They can’t really get around. That’s an elective surgery. That’s going to make their livelihood better. They can’t have that right now. And that is a super huge impact because that means other people might get pushed back. That means you don’t know when that’s gonna happen. This is a big deal. It’s a big deal.”

    Newland is also principal investigator of a COVID-19 research study taking place in some St. Louis area middle and high schools. The study involves community COVID-19 testing and weekly COVID-19 testing with study participants. Tests involve those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

    Having perspective from the study and now experiencing the worst of COVID so far at St. Louis Children’s Hospital from the omicron variant, Dr. Newland is more passionate than ever about vaccinations.

    “It’s extremely busy for everybody and the curve is not a curve. It’s a straight line up. It’s a complete vertical line right now. I mean, that’s what the hospitalizations have done. We’re going to reach a peak in the next couple of weeks, which doesn’t mean that the cases just go away. We’ll just start seeing less of them. And so will then, we’ll go down the other side of the mountain,” Newland explained.

    Watch the video story for more information about the surge of cases in St. Louis and how that’s affecting hospitals.