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East Texas emergency rooms see increase in COVID-19 patients

A record number of new COVID-19 cases were reported Wednesday in Texas
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:55 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 12:01 AM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The state of Texas broke a pandemic record − reporting nearly 76,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day on Wednesday. In the last week, more than 300,000 Texans have tested positive, according to the state health department.

“We’re probably running about 50 to 60 percent higher than normal for this time of year, which can already be sort of high,” Tyler Complete Care emergency room physician Dr. Bill Wallace said.

Wallace says in the last few weeks, they’ve seen their patient count tick back up, largely due to the highly transmissible omicron variant.

“We’re told by the health department probably more than 90 percent of the COVID in this region is omicron. We don’t specifically test for that when we do a test, it comes back with the COVID virus or not, but we sort of presume that most people at this time are infected with omicron,” Wallace said.

According to the state health department, about one percent of the Texas population tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week. Of those who got a test, one in three were positive.

“We’ve had three people go out just in the last several days, so it’s not just the public,” Wallace said.

When it comes to testing for the virus, Wallace advises people not to come to an emergency room for a test.

“Most emergency rooms are supposed to reserve their time and resources for sick people. We really discourage the use of the ER for very minor problems or for people that really don’t have symptoms or need a test,” Wallace said.

A silver lining in this surge: Dr. Wallace says many COVID-19 patients are coming in with symptoms he equates to a bad cold.

“Despite its contagiousness, we’re all very lucky that it does not seem to be near as severe,” Wallace said.

For more information on COVID-19 case numbers in Texas, click here.

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