LUBBOCK, Texas — Rising COVID-19 cases and 18 months in the thick of a pandemic has Lubbock hospitals stretched thin, with more healthcare workers leaving the field altogether.

According to the most recent data from Covenant Health, 111 people were in the hospital with COVID and 103 of those people are unvaccinated.

“Between the rising number of patients, the increase in the severity of their illness and the decreasing number of caregivers we have available to take care of them, we find ourselves in a very difficult situation,” said Covenant Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Schroeder.

The Delta variant has brought with it another surge of COVID-19 patients that are filling local hospitals, but this time around – a few new problems have arisen.

“Never did we think that we were going to be in a situation of having to worry about not having enough people,” Dr. Schroeder said. “So we have made a conscious decision to decrease the number of available beds.”

Covenant is taking 60 hospital beds offline as they simply don’t have enough people to staff them. Schroeder said many folks have left to take higher paying jobs or because of burnout.

But despite staffing shortages, Covenant took over 1,000 patients from other counties’ just last month.

“There is anywhere between 20 and 60 patients in the region waiting for a higher level of care hoping to get into Covenant,” said Schroeder. “And that’s not including the 20 to 30 patients that might be sitting in our emergency department.”

It’s a problem that’s been seen all across the country.

“We’ve had calls from Kansas from Colorado [and] as far away as Albuquerque,” Schroeder said. “We had a phone call from an ambulance department in Little Rock, Arkansas asking if we had beds.”

Covenant said its teams are overwhelmed and are imploring people once again to get vaccinated.

“My family is vaccinated to protect your family and your family is vaccinated to protect mine. We are as Americans all about looking after another,” said Schroeder.

Vaccines are in stock at local pharmacies and the Lubbock Health Department hosts pop up clinics every Wednesday.