Omicron Hospitalizations Are ‘Tough’ on Local Health-Care Workers; Plus, Travel Advice from Mount Sinai Docs

By Maya Mau

It’s tough for health-care workers to see people now who are as sick as they were in the beginning of the pandemic, coming in because of the personal choice not to be vaccinated, Dr. Krystina Woods, who covers Mount Sinai West (Roosevelt) and Morningside (St. Luke’s) hospitals, told Community Board 7’s Health and Human Services Committee, earlier this week.

“On the Upper West Side, we did start seeing COVID numbers picking up in the month of December….and with that, slowly came hospitalizations, and then, quite quickly, we started seeing the numbers rising and hospitalizations increasing as well,” Dr. Woods recapped. “In many ways it’s a difficult thing as a practitioner to see this again, because we do have vaccines available and a certain amount of this has just been personal choice….”

Dr. Woods said that some people came to the hospital for a non-COVID reason and ended up testing positive, but the fact that they were asymptomatic is a strong sign that vaccinated people who get infected are otherwise feeling healthy and well.

Dr. Woods’ colleague, Dr. Bernard Camins, noted that, as was the case with the other surges, hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens saw higher positivity rates during Omicron due to lower vaccination rates. He said with higher rates of vaccination and previous infection, there is hope that a future variant might create less disruption to the community.

“As far as travel, it really depends on where you’re going and what activities you’re going to do,” Dr. Camins said. “Full disclosure: I am going to travel in February and March. I will be going to several ‘red states.’ That said, I’ve now prepared myself for the fact that I will have a high-risk exposure. But I’m also at the point that I’m not as worried, because everyone in my household has been fully vaccinated and boostered.”

When considering a destination, Dr. Camins recommends taking into account that COVID disrupts life less in a place with higher rates of vaccination, since restaurants and transportation will function at a more normal level. In New York City, for example, 85% of adults are fully vaccinated, which is twenty points higher than the rest of the country. 

“COVID is here to stay,” Dr. Woods concluded. She recommends wearing stronger masks in areas with higher positivity and lower vaccination rates.

NEWS | 6 comments | permalink
    1. Bill Williams says:

      Since the pandemic started, I have been back and forth to the UK 8 times. No illness. Live your life!

      • Don Kedick says:

        Since the pandemic started, more than 865,000 Americans have died from COVID. I’m glad you weren’t one of them.

      • Sarah says:

        You’ve been back and forth to the UK 8 times since July 2021? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

        • withheld says:

          The pandemic started in earnest in the US in February 2020.
          It’s called covid-19 because it was first detected in December 2019.

      • Leah NYC says:

        UK 8 times in 2 yrs. Wow. Burn that fossil fuel. And yes I know there are millions more doing the same and more, for business, military, family, pleasure. Unfortunately, there is no green choice when it comes to traveling overseas except to reduce it.

    2. Triple Vaxed Joanne says:

      I too traveled to “red” states last year: AZ in June (though maybe more “purple” ) and WY in September (ruby red.)

      Yes, they were mostly cowboys who went maskless. I stayed safe by dining outdoors and practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when indoors.

      Thank you to all medical workers, and apologies for all your struggles due mostly to the actions of selfish citizens.