The latest chapter in the Covid-19 pandemic is being written by the Omicron variant and it extends beyond the walls of area hospitals.

According to Aspirus Health, the latest surge and demand for Covid-19 testing, combined with increased levels of other seasonal illness such as influenza, is significantly impacting outpatient settings such as family health clinics and emergency departments.

Omicron has taken over as the dominant variant and it’s fueling increased volumes in emergency department and outpatient settings.

“We have been seeing very high volumes of patients that have been coming to us for either Covid testing or treatment of Covid-related symptoms,” said Andrea Allard, Aspirus vice president of operations for Aspirus Medical Group. “We saw a significant spike right around the week of Christmas and we’ve really maintained those high volumes.”

The number of Covid-19 tests administered since Jan. 1 has at least doubled across all clinics in the Aspirus Health system compared to the last two weeks in December.

Aspirus also saw a 62% increase in Covid-19 tests administered between Dec. 1, 2021 and Jan. 16, 2022, compared to the same period the previous year.

“This is causing us to dedicate more resources to Covid-19,” said Allard. “At the same time, we’re facing the same staffing challenges as everyone else. So, we continue to need to do more with less.”

Patients can help alleviate the stress on outpatient clinics and emergency departments by utilizing the MyAspirus app to access test results, schedule E-Visits and manage appointments.

Patients are also asked to only go to an emergency department if they need emergent care.

“Be kind, be patient,” said Allard. “We are really doing our best to make sure that we rise up and meet the needs of our patients.”

Anyone can get more information on Covid-19 vaccinations, booster shots, scheduling information and more at aspirus.org/covid-19-vaccineinfo.