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‘We are seeing a new surge’ Gregg County officials urge vaccinations, community help

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 10:01 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 2:16 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Hospital and county officials in Gregg County held a press conference in Longview Monday to discuss a recent surge of COVID-19 patients in the community.

“We are seeing a new surge, and it is significant in the community,” said Todd Hancock, CEO of CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System.

Hancock said there is concern that the hospitals may approach where they were at the peak of the last surge of COVID-19 patients.

“In mid-January of this current year, we peaked at around 200 COVID patients a day in our hospitals at the Good Shepherd Health System, the significance of where we are now, we are at half that rate. The projection is within possibly a few weeks, we will be approaching where we were in January,” he said.

He said the difference between January and now is the state was helping to provide funding and additional personnel at that time.

“What is different is in January the state was providing us with hundreds of nurses a day to take care of those patients. The state is not providing us with nurses at this time. The state is not providing us with funding at this time,” Hancock said.

Hancock is asking for help from any nurses who may be able to.

“We are paying exorbitant rates out in the community, the resource is extremely scarce. Many nurses are leaving their communities and going around the country to work, because the financial opportunity is very lucrative. That’s not only leaving us with a void for our present need, but we are trying to back fill our nurses who are doing the same thing in our communities,” he said.

Dr. John DiPasquale, Chief of Emergency Medicine for CHRISTUS Good Shepherd, said the situation has become very difficult for healthcare workers.

“We’re overwhelmed in the emergency departments, our clinical and non-clinical staff are exhausted, physically and mentally. May and June looked good for us, we had a little bit of a break, we had a breather, and now its becoming demoralizing to us,” he said.

He said Good Shepherd is seeing a large number of COVID-19 patients with the vast majority being unvaccinated individuals.

“Its nearly 100%. The patients are younger. I’m seeing patients in their 20s and 30s that for no reason are coming into our emergency departments gasping for air,” DiPasquale said.

He is asking for help from the community. He said if you feel sick, assume you may have COVID-19 and take precautions to protect yourself and others. He said to practice rigorous hygiene, wear a mask, and avoid people if you have any symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please adhere to your quarantine period.

Officials restated the need for individuals to get vaccinated and stressed the safety of the vaccine.

“Today our community is almost 40% vaccinated, we can and we must do better,” said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt.

“This vaccine is safe. The FDA would not have administered the EUA if it wasn’t safe. It went through the same rigorous trials that all vaccines go through. Full approval by the FDA is imminent,” DiPasquale said. “We are not caring for an inordinate amount of people who have been vaccinated and are now sick. So please, with tears in my eyes, cooperate with us, trust us, the people that are coming up here are your friends, they are your neighbors, we go and shop at the same stores, we eat at the same restaurants, we hang out at the same parks, the same ball fields and we need you. We need you now, we need you to help us.”

“This virus can be beat, but only working together will we beat it,” Stoudt said.

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