MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar)- Midland Memorial Hospital announced Sunday it will now host daily briefings on the coronavirus response in Midland.
The first of those meetings was held Monday morning. CEO Russell Meyers said the hospital received some backlash from people on social media after they announced they were moving to daily briefings. Comments on Facebook said daily news conferences will scare people.
To that, Meyers said, “That’s exactly why we should and will do them. This not only is it overwhelming the hospital and our resources, it’s squeezing out our ability to care for people in our community and those around us, largely because people continue to choose not to be vaccinated. If you’re not a little bit concerned, you’re clearly not paying attention. You should be scared.”
Meyers continued to urge the unvaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and said everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, should continue to wear masks and social distance as the virus spreads amid the most recent surge.
“We had a very difficult weekend, especially Friday and Saturday,” Meyers said. “Overwhelming numbers of patients, patients holding in the emergency department. It’s calmed down just a little bit, but we remain very full and expect that we will continue to be because we have continued to see high levels of positive test results in the community.”
The hospital is caring for 89 patients with COVID-19 as of Monday morning. 83% of those are unvaccinated, according to Meyers.
Some on social media have speculated the recent surge in hospitalized patients in the Basin is being fueled by people from outside the community. Meyers, however, disagrees.
“This is a Midland problem. It’s not imported from elsewhere, it’s not about the border crisis. It’s about people who live and work here in our community,” Meyers said. “Midland is a hot spot.”
Six weeks ago, at Midland Memorial’s testing site, they were seeing a 10% positivity rate, about 46 people per week. Now, the site is seeing a 30% positivity rate, about 298 positive test results per week.
“This is a viral hot zone and is spreading rapidly. We are seeing unprecedented numbers through the emergency department,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wilson.
Wilson said the Emergency Department is seeing a huge influx of people with mild symptoms coming in for testing and treatment.
“It is really not a place to come for testing. We really prefer you to go to other sites for testing,” Wilson said.
He is encouraging everyone needing a test to call 68NURSE for a list of testing facilities. Those home with the virus should rest, hydrate, take Tylenol as needed for fever, and should only seek emergency care if they are experiencing shortness of breath for an extended period.
As more and more tests come back positive, the hospital is hoping to open 12 additional beds later this week to care for the influx of patients. Meyers said the state is sending a handful of critical care nurses and respiratory therapists by Wednesday.