COVID surge threatens to overwhelm some primary care offices

Posted at 3:10 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 11:40:49-05

BOISE, Idaho — Primary Health clinics across the Treasure Valley are being inundated with people seeking COVID-19 testing.

Dr. David Peterman, the CEO of Primary Health, says on Monday they saw more than 2,000 patients at their 21 locations. That is the second most patients ever seen in a single day.

Related: US recorded 1 million new COVID-19 cases on Monday, Johns Hopkins says

The only day when they treated more Idahoans was during the start of the delta surge on September 7, 2021.

Most patients are coming in with mild COVID-19 symptoms, like a runny nose, cough and low fever. The rate of positive tests has spiked up to 27%.

"Right now, today, we're in what I would call a very red hot situation. very worrisome," said Dr. Peterman. "My prediction? It's going to get higher, I really think that because people have just come from the interaction of the holidays. Second, I understand we're all sick of this and we want to see our family and our friends, and then third, very few of our children are vaccinated and they're about to go back to school."

Primary Health had 38 employees out sick on Monday. With the omicron variant proving to be very contagious, Dr. Peterman is concerned about having to cut back services if additional doctors and staff get sick.

Related: This is why omicron is so highly transmissible

Above all else, Dr. Peterman encourages Idahoans to get vaccinated and wear masks in crowded indoor settings.

The number of new COVID-19 cases across the U.S. reached a new record this week. Dr. Laura Byerly with Virginia Garcia Memorial Medical Center in northwestern Oregon says her primary care clinics are shifting back to a telehealth model because of the surge.