Impact of omicron cases in SWFL

Published: January 5, 2022 8:10 AM EST
Updated: January 5, 2022 4:29 PM EST

WINK News could only find a few CVS pharmacies with openings for COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, while the Florida Department of Health and CenturyLink are fully booked, and health experts say the omicron variant is spreading quickly.

Across the country and in Lee and Collier counties, you can see long lines at testing sites and hours or days before results come in. Dr. Timothy Doughtery, director of the emergency department at Lee Health’s Cape Coral hospital, says one of the reasons you’re waiting longer for your test result is because of a test shortage created by the number of people trying to get tested.

“We don’t want you to go out and work with people if you’re symptomatic,” Dougherty said. “If you’re not symptomatic, then what we would recommend is, while you’re waiting for that test, you don’t have to stay home. But if you’re around family members that are potentially immunocompromised, wear a mask.”

With the omicron variant being highly contagious, doctors in the area say it’s spreading fast. At NCH, before Christmas, there were 11 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. As of Tuesday morning, that number is over 80.

Dr. David Lindner, medical director for NCH Healthcare System, says that wait times at the ER fluctuate, but people should expect to wait hours if they come in the afternoon. He says right now they don’t have to postpone elective surgeries, but it’s something hospitals across the country may soon have to consider because of how fast this variant is spreading.

“OK, so the ER is, yes, they’re backing up, they’re backing up for two reasons: One, many of the ERs across the state are struggling because of staffing, and the second thing they’re struggling with is volume,” Lindner said.

Lindner says people using ERs as COVID-19 testing facilities is another reason they’re backing up, and that staff members are also catching the virus and self-isolating.

You can find locations of monoclonal antibody treatment centers in Southwest Florida by clicking here.