By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The chief medical officers for Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Memorial Healthcare System tell CBS4 that they are prepared for an increase in COVID patients tied to the omicron variant, but they are not ready to say that there will be a surge at this point.

Dr. Hany Atallah, the chief medical officer for Jackson Memorial Hospital, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that of 98 COVID patients currently at their hospitals, 80% of them are tied to the omicron variant. New figures show that nearly 90% of the COVID patients are not vaccinated.

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Dr. Atallah said, “We have figured out our plan for the emergency department and for beds on the floors and we have a plan for ICU beds and all things are ready to go. If you are vulnerable and the person is older this can be a serious thing because you may not have the reserve if you get a COVID infection. One thing though is that omicron is less virulent. It does not cause a lot of severe illness but that being said it depends on how the person reacts to infection. So the best thing to do is to wear masks and social distance and get vaccinated.”

He said, “The vaccines are 80% effective against the delta variant and 70% effective against omicron.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said even though the county has seen a “meteoric rise” in cases, she is optimistic.

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She said, “The most important factor for the community is to make sure our hospitals are not overwhelmed and so far our hospitals have the capacity because of a high vaccination rate.”

Dr. Marc Napp, the chief medical officer for the Memorial Healthcare System, said at the system’s six hospitals, “We are still waiting to see if there is going to be a surge at all. The number we have now is way down from what we have had in the past.”

Memorial Healthcare says it currently has 89 COVID patients which is way down from a July peak of 740 COVID patients.

Napp said, “I would say we are absolutely ready for any increase. We have the staff and the PPE and the beds and the medicine. The issue is fatigue. Everyone is sick and tired of this and wants to get back to normalcy. So I think the biggest challenge we have right now is morale because this is right before Christmas and the New Year and with the change in the calendar everyone is wondering when is this going to end?”

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”Although we have seen an increase in the number of people being tested,” said Napp, “we have not seen an increase in the number of people being hospitalized. But we are going to cut back on our visitations and decrease meetings. We can not let out staff get sick. We need them to be able to work and be bedside so they can be vigilant and everyone can be safe.”

Peter D'Oench