Penn Highlands provides update on its hospitals as Omicron variant surges

Local News

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – As Omicron cases continue to surge across the country, and in the central Pennsylvania area, Penn Highlands Healthcare held a press conference Wednesday, to provide an update on the hospital’s COVID-19 response.

Across Penn Highlands seven hospitals, there were 92 in-patients positive for COVID on Wednesday. Those numbers, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Russell Cameron, are on par with peak hospitalization rates of December 2020.

Nationally, more than 20% of COVID cases are currently among children, and Cameron echoed that Penn Highlands is seeing similar numbers as Omicron continues to spread.
With the increasing spread, Dr. Cameron said the daily number of cases has reached previous peak levels, and that he expects this rising trend to continue.

“Many of us will likely be exposed to the virus. But whether or not a person becomes infected depends on individual behaviors. Being exposed doesn’t mean you will get infected. It depends also on individual behaviors such as masking and social distancing,” Dr. Russell Cameron said.

Cameron said that Penn Highlands has enough vaccines at the ready for everyone in the community, and all staff members, urged all residents to get fully vaccinated and boosted. The effects of the Omicron variant have not been felt as heavily among vaccinated people testing positive, he said, adding being vaccinated can be the difference between getting sick, as well as the severity of your symptoms if you do contract COVID-19.

“This year we are seeing more patients in the physician offices and in clinics, but the number of hospital admissions is similar to this time last year. The overwhelming majority of patients who are doing poorly, are in the ICU, or on ventilators are unvaccinated,” he said.

Cameron also noted that after nearly disappearing in 2020, the flu is back this winter. He added that the flu shot does not seem to be as effective against this winter’s strand of flu.

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