Amarillo health leader talks about the COVID variant, the effects of the vaccine

Dr. Brian Weis, Chief Medical Officer of Northwest Texas Healthcare System, spoke about the state of COVID-19 in Amarillo, the new variants, and the spread of vaccine misinformation that has spread across social media.

In Amarillo’s latest public health report for COVID-19, there were 414 new cases and one new death from COVID-19, bringing the current active cases for the community to 1,577. In Amarillo, according to the report, there are 21 ongoing hospitalizations for COVID-19, including three in intensive care, and 67% of hospitalized patients are not vaccinated. In total, there have been 1,319 deaths from COVID-19, and as of August 2021, 81% of deaths have been unvaccinated individuals.

Weis said that in the final weeks of 2022, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) took the greatest toll on Amarillo’s health care system, but COVID-19 has been an ongoing concern that is still affecting Texas Panhandle residents .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects XBB.15 to be the predominant virus entering the new year. Its latest report says 43% of new cases in the US are the new variant. XBB.1.5, an Omicron variant, is currently the most transmissible variant. It is a variant of XBB, first detected in October, and a combination of two other subvariants of Omicron.

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