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Southeast Texas healthcare workers anticipating second COVID spike while battling pandemic fatigue

Health officials said they expect this spoke in coronavirus cases to get worse, and ICU hospital beds in Jefferson County are still nearing capacity Friday night.

Doctors and healthcare workers are expecting more new cases linked to Thanksgiving gatherings and believe the next two weeks will be critical.

Health experts are expecting to start hitting similar record numbers reported in July, back when new COVID-19 cases were 100 per day. This week, the daily average for new coronavirus cases is 84.

With a second COVID-19 peak on the horizon, healthcare heroes are preparing as best they can.

“This is exactly what happened in July and August, so we feel like it’s repeating again,” Christus St. Elizabeth vice president of medical affairs Dr. Waqar Ahmad said.

Hospitalizations are rising, he said. He sees the trend every day.

“We see the signs of fatigue and tiredness in the staff, they’ve been fighting this pandemic for a long time now,” Ahmad said. “The past week has been really, really busy.”

Hospitals are not just busy with coronavirus patients. According to SETRAC, the majority of hospitalizations in Jefferson County are made up of people with other illnesses.

Dr. Ahmad said if you have other health issues, do not be afraid to go to the doctor before it gets worse.

“Talk to your doctor,” he said. “If you don’t want to go to the office, talk to them on the phone, get their advice.”

As hospitalizations rise, so do positive COVID-19 cases.

“Yes, we’re seeing an increase in cases, but next week is really critical for us,” Lamar University Associate Professor Dr. Praphul Joshi said.

Dr. Joshi crunches the numbers for Jefferson County. The rise in cases the last few weeks are from infections before Thanksgiving weekend.

“We are getting more and more people getting tested, and our positivity rate is increasing that is another scary thing too,” he said.

Last week, Jefferson County averaged 75 positive cases a day, Dr. Joshi said. This week, the average is 84.

He said he expects that number to continue to climb.

“There’s this notion that the disease is gone, but we are way far, far off,” Dr. Joshi said. “We have a long ways to go.”

Dr. Ahmad also said another challenge hospitals are facing is healthcare workers getting the virus and having to call in sick.

Everyday actions have a trickle-down effect, which is why he said he is asking everyone to stay vigilant.