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COVID surge causes staffing complications
Dale Humphrey.jpg
Dale Humphrey

In a story no one wants to continue hearing, COVID just won’t go away.


“We are definitely seeing another surge,” said Dale Humphrey, CEO of Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital. “This omicron variant is definitely less severe, but it’s definitely more contagious. Hopefully this will peak quickly and we’ll get through this. Fortunately, we have seen no deaths from this variant.”


Humphrey said statewide in the entire Saint Thomas system, there were 253 people hospitalized due to COVID. Those figures were for Thursday. Here in McMinnville at River Park, there were 10 hospitalizations with three of those in ICU and no patients on a ventilator.


Humphry said when the delta variant was raging in September there were 60 people on ventilators statewide in the Saint Thomas system. There are currently 18 on ventilators.


“One of the biggest problems for us is our employees are getting sick too so this is creating some staffing issues,” said Humphrey. “My greatest fear is this will mutate again to something as severe as delta but as contagious as omicron.”


Director of Schools Dr. Grant Swallows said he has noticed a COVID uptick in the school system with teachers and students getting sick.


“We’re not close to as bad as it’s been, but we’re seeing an increase,” said Swallows. “It’s also helped that we’ve only been in school for five days this semester,” he said on Thursday. Swallows said as of Thursday there were 70 students and 20 employees in isolation, meaning they have tested positive for COVID.


“It’s still too early to tell how this will go, but from December until now we have seen an increase,” said Swallows.