CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The omicron COVID surge is continuing as Rio Grande Valley hospitals are reporting one out of five patients have COVID-19.

There are 542 COVID patients in hospitals in our trauma service area. Those patients are split into two roughly equal groups: people in the hospital because of COIVID, and people in the hospital with COVID.

“You’re getting admitted because for COVID is you’re there because COVID put you there,” said Dr. James Castillo, the Cameron County health authority. “And then you have other people who are in the hospital who are there because they got in a car accident and then they test positive for COVID. Well, they have COVID too, but they’re really not in the hospital for COVID.”

Dr. Castillo said around 200 of those COVID patients fall into the latter group where they need care for other serious issues but doctors and nurses now have to take extra precautions because of COVID.

“You can’t just put them on the medical floor and not care that they have COVID, you have to respect that they are infectious,” explained Castillo.

The sheer quantity of omicron patients is taxing hospitals already pushed to the limit. With not enough staffing help being sent by the state.

“Even before we had the omicron surge, hospitals were having staffing issues,” Castillo said. “Now, it just adds to the problem.”

Omicron is the most infectious variant of COVID yet. But so far, it doesn’t appear to be very deadly.

“It’s not as many as with Delta,” Castillo said. “And it’s definitely the trend where the ones who are getting worst hit by omicron are those people who are completely unvaccinated.”