Amarillo hospitals starting to see COVID-19 and flu coinfections

Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 11:58 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo hospitals have started to see patients with both COVID-19 and the flu.

Dr. Brian Weis, the chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System, said the hospital saw its first patient with the coinfection yesterday.

“This patient is very sick, and we know that is a bad combination,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, the chief medical officer at BSA, said the hospital has also seen several patients with coinfection.

Dr. Lamanteer said a coinfection puts those individuals at increased risk for respiratory issues and even death.

As of today, NWTH has 111 COVID-19 patients, with 45 in the ICU and 24 on ventilators.

BSA has 194 COVID-19 patients, and 72 of the total 86 ICU patients at the hospital have COVID-19.

Dr. Weis says there have been 70 COVID-19 deaths at NWTH in November. That is compared to 20 in October.

When asked about the morgue capacity in Amarillo, Dr. Weis said the hospitals are using the morgue trucks that were recently brought to Amarillo.

“At this point we have had to use those,” said Dr. Weis. “But certainly we have heard an appeal from the mortuary and the funeral homes saying they are getting backlogged.”

“We’re very concerned about it, and there’s no question November was a very bad month for our city and our community when it came to the number of deaths,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

Dr. Lamanteer said around one third of the deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic occurred in November.

“That is an unsettling statistic in my opinion,” he said.

The hospitals are continuing to work with Amarillo Public Health to expand the critical care capacity.

Dr. Lamanteer said as BSA continues to expand the ICU within the walls of the hospital, that is creating an issue with what the hospital can do with non-ICU patients.

He said the hospitals are considering the possibility of having to move to caring for patients outside of the hospital.

“Yes, we are considering the possibility because we are trying to prepare for all circumstances,” said Dr. Lamanteer.

“As we’ve said,” he continued. “That is not ideal.”

Dr. Rodney Gonzales, director of the Amarillo VA, said the VA continues to care for non-veteran patients to help with the current high rate of hospitalizations in Amarillo.

There are currently 15 COVID-19 patients at the VA, with eight in the ICU and two on ventilators.

The VA currently has eight non-veteran patients, and Dr. Gonzales says the hospital has cared for a total of 18 non-veteran patients.

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