CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The rampant spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant is weighing on the health care system.
"The delta variant has already strained the medical resources in this community once before and it’s doing it again now.," Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said at a press conference Tuesday.
Nueces County is getting one of five rapid injection therapy centers from the state. It will be state operated at the Richard Borchard Fairgrounds beginning Friday.
"Many at risk patients can recover without in-patient hospital admission which is a vital benefit to the community as medical resources are highly stressed by the surge of infections by the Delta variant," said Canales.
In the meantime, Christus Spohn has built a temporary rapid injection center where eligible patients can get Regeneron therapy. That began Monday outside their Memorial Hospital
The therapy uses monoclonal antibodies to stimulate the immune system. It's for those with mild to moderate symptoms and the goal is to keep those people out of the. hospital. Canales said it should weaken symptoms and lessen the time the virus affects a person.
"And if you receive them early enough in the stages of Covid-19, these antibodies can help, as I said, supplement your immune system," Canales said. "Even if you haven’t started producing your own antibodies yet."
Hospital officials said about 28 people will have had the therapy by eno f day Tuesday. The center at Memirial Hospital is limited on space. When the center at the fairgrounds opens, Canales said capacity will expand.
Patients can chose to do it by IV or a set of four injections. The county judge said the injections won't take to long but the IV process could take 2 to 3 hours. That includes the time a person is observed following the therapy.
If you are already in the hospital you can’t get the therapy. Eligible patients need a doctor referral. If you don't have a doctor you can get a referral at the Covid Clinic.
Canales detalied specific requirements for those eligible. They are as follows. To be eligible you must weigh 88 lbs and fall into one of the following high risk groups. 65 years or older have a body mass index of 35 or greater, or have chronic kidney disease, diabetes, a condition that disrupts or suppresses the immune system, currently receiving immunosuppressive treatments. Second group are people 55 year old or older and have cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or chronic respiratory issues. You should consult with your doctor about eligibility.
"Now nothing is perfect," said Canales. "And there are no guarantees this therapy will be 100 percent effective. But boy does the science look good. But boy does the science look good at keeping those severe hospitalizations down with this therapy."
Canales said this could be a possible preventative treatment, depending on how it plays out.
"We could be providing infusion therapy very soon, in this community, to high risk individuals as a preventative measure," she said. "We’re not doing this at our centers at this exact moment, but this is what we think the future will hold for us.
Canales said the state has agreed to provide staffing assistance during the surge of Covid-19 cases. She hopes to have a request in for all regional hospitals as early as Tuesday night.