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Boone County hospital faces staffing issues amid omicron surge


As COVID-19 cases reach their highest levels in months, staffing shortages are once again becoming an issue for hospitals.

The concern is staff members - doctors and nurses are getting infected with the fast-spreading omicron variant.

Boone Health is one of many hospitals nationwide experiencing a shortage.

The highly contagious omicron is spreading, cases are rising and the unvaccinated and vaccinated are falling victim to the virus.

Dr. Robin Blount said Boone Health is feeling the effects.

"We were running around 20 staff a day. Today it was almost 40 in one day we went from 24-40," Dr. Blount said.

At least 95% of the staff at Boone Health is vaccinated, but around 40 workers have tested positive and have to quarantine.

"That many people call in sick it's very hard to continue to provide all the services you need to, so we may have to limit the number of patients we have in the hospital," Dr. Blount said.

To address this growing issue, the CDC cut the recommended time for isolation in half, for people with COVID-19, if asymptomatic.

People who test positive for COVID-19 now need to isolate themselves for five days if they do not have symptoms, instead of the original 10 days, the CDC said Monday. People should follow up the five days of isolation with five days of mask-wearing.

The CDC said the change is motivated by science that shows the majority of coronavirus transmission occurs in the early days (1-2 days prior or 2-3 days after) of the illness.

The CDC has also updated its recommended quarantine period for people exposed to the virus. For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months from their second mRNA dose, and not yet boosted, the CDC now also recommends five days of quarantine followed by mask use for five more days. People who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine after being exposed but should wear a mask for the next 10 days following exposure.

Although we are seeing a lot more breakthrough cases, experts say there are preventative steps people can take.

"I'd certainly recommend a booster, I think that certainly diminishes your risk significantly. The cloth masks are not as effective as a surgical mask," Dr. Blount said.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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