SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – More than 150 people were hospitalized for treatment with COVID-19 at Savannah’s three hospitals Thursday. Seventy-two of those were at Memorial Health.

“I think for a lot of health care providers, there’s a recognition that we’re back again. You know, almost a Groundhog Day experience,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, Memorial’s associate chief medical officer.

Of the 72 COVID patients, Thacker said 13 are in the Intensive Care Unit and seven are on ventilators. He also said that three of the COVID patients are in the pediatric unit.

A month ago, there were about a dozen COVID patients at Memorial. While the current numbers are a concern, Thacker says the hospital cared for 180 COVID patients during the delta variant surge in September.

He says the omicron variant is making people less sick, even though some still need hospitalization.

“What we’re seeing with this resurgence is that there are less individuals finding their way to the ICU compared to prior surges, which is a good thing,” explained Thacker.

Still, he said the challenge for health care systems is having enough beds and staff to take care of all the new patients who still need to be hospitalized. In some cases, facilities have staff that have been exposed to omicron and that are quarantining.

But Thacker said Memorial still has staff to cover COVID patients in addition to those with other illnesses.

“Every health system has learned a lot throughout this pandemic on how to manage this surge of patients due to coronavirus and still take care of all the other non-coronavirus-related illnesses in the community,” he said.

Thacker says the majority of those hospitalized have not been vaccinated, and while they do have some breakthrough cases, he says in those instances, the person had not gotten a booster shot when they were eligible.

Recognizing the three pediatric patients, he urged parents to have their children vaccinated, which now includes children over the age of 5.

Thacker is also hopeful this surge will end soon.

“So based on some of the better models that we have around this new variant, I would be hopeful that in Chatham County, we’re talking about reaching our peak in the next week,” he said. “And I fully expect we’ll hold there for about seven to 10 days before it drops off quickly, based on the experience in other cities that we’ve seen.”

Thacker stressed that while many may not be getting as sick with omicron that some people are still getting very ill. He says that’s why it’s imperative that those with heart conditions, diabetes or who are immune-compromised get vaccinated and boosted.

“Health care professionals are here to help people in the community and when we are taking care of a patient that may have a bad outcome and this is something that could have been avoided, it weighs on you,” Thacker said.