INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 case counts are hitting new records in this new year, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
On New Year’s Day, when most people were enjoying the remainder of holiday time off or setting goals for 2022, Eskenazi Health Executive Medical Director Dr. Graham Carlos was having the busiest day of his career in the ICU.
”Blood pressures are dropping and ventilators are alarming and you just find yourself trying to go from one problem and crashing patient to the next,” said Carlos.
”I had to race to that room and put their breathing tube back in and then I was starting rounds and somebody’s lung collapsed and I had to race to that room,” said Carlos.
He said the difficulty was caused by a combination of the current surge in cases and holiday weekend staffing shortages, two things that could only get worse.
”We’re having staff members test positive and then they’re out,” Carlos said.
He said they’re seeing more breakthrough cases in staff and having to get more creative with scheduling.
”It’s leading to just a lot of exhaustion for people, like me, who have been working back-to-back shifts working back-to-back to back weeks,” Carlos said.
As cases continue to rise, he predicts the current surge will only get worse.
”If things keep going the way they are I do suspect we’ll see a peek mid-January,” Carlos said.
His hope is the Omicron variant won’t cause as severe disease as other COVID-19 variants and won’t impact the hospitals as much as the others have.
”If it’s super mild then I’m hopeful it’ll sweep through and we won’t see a huge number of hospitalizations,” Carlos said.
But at the rate the virus spreads, Carlos said a significant spike in cases following holiday gatherings and kids returning to school is likely.
”I think going back to school may also be like lighter fluid on this thing,” he said.
There is more help on the way – Monday morning the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID booster for kids as young as 12.
”the fact that it’s going to be available for more people will mean well hopefully have less infections and that will transform into less transmissibility,” Carlos said.
But Carlos did acknowledge it may take awhile to actually help. Recipients have to wait six months after the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine before getting the booster.
So, as the pandemic continues in newly-unprecedented ways, Dr. Carlos is asking people to please monitor for symptoms, be proactive if you think you might be infected and quarantine if you are.
”We need your help in healthcare, please do your best so we can do ours,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Marion County Health Dept. said it is waiting on further guidance from the CDC and Indiana State Department of Health before making an plans to administer booster to kids as young as 12.