Hospitals at full capacity: resurgence driven by unvaccinated, Delta variant

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Hospital leaders said they are operating at full capacity, as the unvaccinated drive the resurgence of COVID-19 in central Illinois.

The CDC reported on Monday the Omicron variant makes up 73.2% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, an increase of 12.6% in just one week.

Colleen Kannaday, president of Carle Bromenn Medical Center and Carle Eureka Hospital, said every COVID-19 patient currently in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator is unvaccinated.

“They are the ones ending up in the ICU. They are the ones that are ending up on ventilators and who are ultimately passing away,” she said.

Kannaday said some elective surgeries like orthopedics are being turned into outpatient appointments in order to save beds. She said hospital staff is exhausted, especially with a winter surge on the way.

“Our staff are tired. This has gone on for the last couple of years and it’s emotionally draining on our physicians, on our nurses,” she said. “And there’s a finite number of resources that are available, including beds, to be able to care for patients, but also staff to be able to care for patients.”

Robert Anderson, president of OSF Healthcare, said the resurgence is being driven by the Delta variant.

“It is not caused by Omicron. It really is a surge of the unvaccinated,” he said.

But eventually, Anderson said Omicron will likely become the dominant strain, which the CDC considers less severe but more contagious.

“A smaller proportion may need to be hospitalized, but we’re talking about this infecting a much larger percentage of the population,” he said.

Anderson said it’s “discouraging” to see yet another surge driven by unvaccinated people, and implores people to do their part.

“If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should get a vaccine or a booster, doing that will be the number one way you can prevent our hospitals from being overrun with excess capacity this winter,” he said.

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