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Positivity rate hits 15% after holiday weekend

Covid Future
Posted at 8:55 PM, Dec 26, 2021

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — More than 25,000 COVID-19 cases were reported over the holiday weekend and doctors fear that’s only the tip of the iceberg, as people come back from traveling and holiday gatherings.

"I fear for what is going to happen next," said Dr. Christopher Thompson, a biologist and associate professor at Loyola University Maryland.

Since Christmas Eve, the 7-day positivity rate increased 2 percent, now at almost 16 percent. It's evidence of the omicron variant’s rapid spread.

"This really concerning and this is before we see the data from people coming back after visiting family after the holidays," said Thompson.

Hospitals are already getting stretched to their breaking points. As of December 261,584 people are hospitalized because of COVID.

According to a hospital alert tracking system used by EMS, many hospitals across the area have been on red alert for hours, meaning they don’t have any more in-patient critical care beds, not only for COVID patients but for all emergencies.

"We have people with influenza. We have people with RSV. We have people with cancer. We have people who need lifesaving surgeries and some of these hospitals are at or over 110% capacity," said Thompson.

The spread has also caused stress on testing infrastructure; long lines, no available appointments and still record numbers of people getting tested.

But as for other COVID mitigation techniques, Thompson said people are not taking those as seriously to stop the spread.

"I was out with family doing some shopping today and the number of people not wearing masks was remarkable. I’d see people coughing and sneezing and not wearing their masks.

Local and state politicians have said they don’t want another shut down.

Thompson worries something might have to give if hospitals cannot handle the load.

"I do have some concerns that we may have to take more drastic measures if we as individuals are no longer taking the appropriate counter measures to this virus," said Thompson.

December 27 is the first Monday of city-run testing in Baltimore, after the change last week. The Hope City Church site will also have at-home test kits available.