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Omicron surge increasing hospitalizations; patients may have long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms


Experts say the omicron variant causes a milder case of COVID-19, but many hospitals in Mid-Missouri are at max capacity as the surge continues to infect thousands.

Health experts in Missouri say omicron is making up more than 80 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the state, and as of Wednesday COVID-19 hospitalizations surpassed 3,000, but the numbers can be misleading.

On Tuesday, SSM Health St. Mary's in Jefferson City had 41 patients with COVID-19. The hospital's record number during a previous surge is 42.

MU Health Care had 98 positive patients with COVID-19 Tuesday. Its record number of COVID-19 positive patients during the December 2020 surge was 102.

Marc Johnson, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Missouri, said while some COVID-positive patients admitted may need extensive medical care, some can have mild symptoms, and others may be admitted for other medical reasons.

"There are so many people infected, there are people coming in to like have their ankle checked and then they do a test and they're like oh you're COVID positive," Johnson said.

Some patients that test positive when admitted to a hospital may be hospitalized for a non-COVID-related reason, but the hospital will still count it as a positive COVID patient.

Dr. Robin Blount, chief medical officer with Boone Health, said for many people with omicron, symptoms will be on the milder side and present like a cold or flu, but because of how fast the variant is spreading hospitals are still seeing record numbers of people with severe cases.

"The percent that ends up in the hospital with delta is probably higher than with omicron, but if you have a ton more cases you're still gonna get a bunch of people in the hospital," Dr. Blount said.

But experts say people should take precautions because omicron is presenting unique and long-lasting symptoms.

"Some long haulers may have symptoms for months and months. Others may be last 5 days, 10, days or even a few weeks," Dr. Blount said.

While the symptoms can last anywhere from weeks to months, some can be severe.

Experts say the severity of the symptoms can depend on the severity of the COVID case. 

Long hauler COVID-19 symptoms can include but are not limited to brain fog, stomach issues, night sweats, migraines, and fatigue.

Experts say to reach out to your primary care doctor if you are experiencing any long-lasting symptoms.

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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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