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Vidant Health endures staff shortages & high positive test rate as Omicron rages

Vidant Health Public Relations

On Wednesday, Vidant Health positive test rate for COVID-19 surpassed the state’s, as the hospital system continues to deal with long lines at testing sites and staffing shortages due to COVID-19 infection. PRE’s Meredith Radford has more. 

 At an almost 40% positive test rate, Vidant Health is experiencing COVID-19 numbers that are the highest by far seen during the pandemic, according to President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Floyd.  

4,000 tests, which used to be the weekly average taken by the system, are now a daily occurrence. Floyd says hospital and testing staff are getting sick at similar rates as the communities they work and live in, which further lowers the ability to care for patients. 

“Every day we are having sometimes more than 100 people who can’t come to work because they’re out on quarantine or sick from COVID-19.” 

Vidant Health infectious disease specialist T. Ryan Gallaher warns to not underestimate the Omicron variant, the cause of the most recent influx in COVID-19 cases, just because severity per patient is lower. 

“Most of the time, to an individual patient it will be, you have to consider some very important factors. That is, to a population, when you get more people infected, you’re statistically going to lead to more people getting sicker.” 

Gallaher says early data shows Omicron may be 3 times more infectious than the Delta variant was.  

Floyd says surges like this put stress on the hospital system, affecting people who need critical care for other illnesses. He says they’re asking the public to do all they can to avoid becoming sick and needing inpatient services. 

For Public Radio East, I’m Meredith Radford. 

Vidant Health is a financial supporter of PRE. 

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