Local hospitals deal with staffing shortages while COVID cases surge

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)- Covid cases and hospitalizations in Rhode Island are the highest they’ve been in nearly a year.

Currently there are more than 200 people in the hospital with COVID and 36 in the ICU.

The omicron variant has also arrived in Rhode Island, with the first case reported this weekend.

All of this, comes at a time where many Rhode Island hospitals are short staffed.

As a result, Gov. Daniel Mckee says these next 6 weeks are crucial, as all mitigation options are on the table.

Options that include a possible return of an indoor mask mandate

Dr. Erica Hardy is an infectious disease physician at Women and infants hospital in Providence.

With the omicron variant now in Rhode Island, she told ABC6 about some of the concerns hospitals have.

“I think the concern is that as we see more infections is that as we see things like staffing shortages and I think the big risk is overwhelming the hospital systems so the goal is to definitely not do that,” Dr. Hardy said.

To prevent an overflow, hospitals under Care New England that include, Kent, Butler and Womens and Infants Hospitals, have reduced non emergency surgeries resulting in more staffing and beds to care for COVID patients.

Though there is still much unknown regarding this new variant, vaccination is still the best way to slow the spread.

Dr. Hardy says the more boosters in arms, the better.

“With preliminary data coming out of many different places, it looks like a booster is going to be important. With Omicron here in the state, I think it’s even more important because I think that third dose of that booster is going to be important for protection.”

According to The Rhode Island Department of Health, 214,073 doses of booster shots have been given.

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