Frontline hospital workers on Friday expressed concern over the surge in COVID-19 cases that could bring back the overcrowded hospital conditions seen earlier in the pandemic.
Parkland Hospital chief medical officer Dr Joseph Chang has said frontline hospital workers and patients who have survived COVID-19 do not want to see this return.
He said the vaccination rate must increase.
“I have asked all of our employees and all of our audiences to come out and tell their stories. Impress people with what they have seen. People believe it. People will see your seriousness and then they will feel your sincerity. This is what we have to do, ”Chang said.
Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Chairman Steven Love said COVID-19-related hospitalizations had increased by 70% in the past two weeks.
As of Friday, there were 729 COVID-19 patients in the Texas E Trauma Service Area which includes 18 counties in North Texas. This was 29 more patients than the day before.
Most of the cases are patients who had not been vaccinated.
“They are playing Russian roulette because the virus is going to find unvaccinated people,” Love said.
Current numbers are low compared to 4,250 in the region in January, but with the rate of increase comes the presence of a new, more aggressive Delta variant.
Love said COVID-19 positive patients infected an average of two and a half more people with the virus at the start of the pandemic, but the Delta variant is infecting between five and eight new people.
“So it’s much more contagious and the doctors tell me the patients are also more seriously ill,” Love said.
Dr Chang said the Delta variant is stickier.
“It kind of sticks to our lungs even stronger than the original virus. That’s why it causes more problems,” he said.
Parkland Hospital’s COVID-19 unit had up to 400 patients at a time at the height of the pandemic last year.
Chang said frontline staff were relieved when the unit closed in March, with as few as 10 patients at a time at the Dallas County Public Hospital.
“But now? Now the vaccinations have slowed down. We’re only about 50% in Dallas County fully vaccinated,” Chang said. “If only one in two is vaccinated in Dallas County, but when I go into Kroger, if no one has a mask, I know that’s probably not appropriate. “
Chang said there are now between 30 and 40 COVID-19 patients every day in Parkland.
He is concerned about the misinformation he sees online, challenging the wisdom vaccination.
“Doctor Google didn’t go to medical school. I did. The people at the CDC, the people who work at the CDC, they did. They are reliable sources, ”Chang said.
Chang and Love said the currently available vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, but may not protect against the newer variants if the pandemic continues.
“If people don’t get infected, then mutations don’t happen, new variants don’t appear. So we’re kind of causing our own problem by not crushing the disease as early as possible, ”Chang said.
“The more people who are infected, the more mutations you are going to have and the more variants you are going to have,” Love said.
The hospital board chairman said member hospitals were predicting the worst and were better prepared with training, bed capacity and personal protective equipment than they were before COVID-19 arrived.
Love said they hoped it wouldn’t be necessary.