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Omicron variant and ICU bed shortage causes concern for local health resources

The variant and upcoming holiday gatherings pose issues for local health outlets - 13 On Your Side's Luis Lopez reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - As COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to public health, a new variant and the holiday season have local health centers concerned. The Regional Center For Border Health in Somerton says plenty of locals are getting COVID tests. However, the numbers being revealed are causing concern. 

Locals have been getting tested since Thanksgiving weekend, and the center has noticed an increase in their positivity rate. On average, the center says it tests about 500 people a day, usually seeing about a 10 percent positivity rate. However, over the past few days, that number has risen to about 18 to 20 percent.

President and CEO of the center Amanda Aguirre says that when their nurses test people, they are also advising those who come through to also get their shot. Even more so now with with the Omicron variant now posing a threat.

“We would like to encourage people to get vaccinated because even if this variant comes into this community, they will be better protected,” Aguirre said.

Vaccination rates are going up in both counties in the Desert Southwest. Yuma sits at 72% while imperial hit 92% according to Covid Act Now.org. However, even with the vaccination numbers, Yuma Regional Medical Center has seen an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Chief Nursing Officer Deborah Aders says most who are in for COVID are unvaccinated.

“It’s the 30 year olds 40 year olds, 50, mainly mostly, they are mostly unvaccinated. The ones ending up in the ICU are pretty much almost 100% unvaccinated, so yeah we expect it to increase a little more," Aders said.

Above all, experts still say that the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.

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Luis Lopez

Luis Lopez is a MMJ covering both news and sports for both CBS 13 and NBC 11. Working his first professional newsroom job, Luis is a 2021 graduate of San Diego State University, where he majored in Journalism.

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