St. Charles Bend has 79 COVID-19-positive patients, expects Omicron peak to hit

Hospital expects to have 130 COVID patients by early February

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — St. Charles Bend is once again becoming filled with Covid-19-positive patients.

Doug Merrill, the St. Charles Health System’s chief medical officer, said Friday that things are getting scary. 

“Our emergency rooms are full, we’ve got lots of kids admitted with COVID so this is a pretty dire state,” Merrill said.

He said while the Omicron variant was believed to be less severe than Delta, the sheer number of people contracting the far more contagious virus variant has caused the increase. 

“Although it appeared to be less diabolical than the Delta variant, because so many more people are catching it, the percentage of people who may need hospitalization may be lower — but since its hitting so many people, we are actually seeing a larger number of people come into the hospital,” Merrill said. 

He said the symptoms are similar to that of the Delta variant. 

“Those who are sick enough to get hospitalized are pretty similar,” Merrill said. “But there’s a higher percentage of people who are not in the ICU. They’re sick, but they’re able to be cared for outside the ICU than was true with Delta, where we really saw a lot more people in the ICU.”

As of noon Friday, St. Charles Bend had 79 Covid-positive patients, four in the ICU and on ventilators.

At the peak of the Delta variant in December, it had 118 Covid patients.

The latest data predicts Omicron in Oregon will peak in the beginning of February, and St. Charles is expecting to have nearly 130 Covid patients in the hospital at that time.

If you’re unvaccinated, officials say, the chances of needing hospitalization are far greater.

“Very high,” Merrill said. “About 10 times more people who are unvaccinated than those who are vaccinated.”

With the help of traveling nurses and the returning role of the Oregon National Guard, St. Charles is able to staff 348 beds, as opposed to their usual 295.

But with the patient increase, more minor surgeries will have to be delayed, officials say, and more staff will be overworked.

Read More: St. Charles Bend has 79 COVID-19-positive patients, expects Omicron peak to hit

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