LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Staffing levels at Southern Nevada hospitals remain at “crisis” level for the third week and COVID-19 hospitalizations in Clark County are near the highest number since the pandemic began, according to the Nevada Hospital Association.

As the highly contagious omicron variant spreads through the community, hospitals are filling up. For the first time, hospital occupancy rates are at a “warning” status for Southern Nevada because 98% of beds are occupied. In recent weeks, the number of patients with COVID-19 has increased and so has the number of patients in hospital intensive care units.

According to the NHA weekly report, “southern hospitals are experiencing delays in inpatient admits with several hundred patients holding daily in the emergency departments as they await an open, staffed bed.”

The NHA has a five-tier threat assessment rating system with crisis being the most serious, followed by alert, warning, watch, and no concern.

Nurse practitioner Erika Kimble, who used to work in a hospital, said it’s a difficult time for nurses on the frontline of COVID-19 who are dealing with very sick patients.

“That’s not something you can go home and forget easily. The toll of that lives with you quite a while. That’s probably part of the reason for the burnout, just seeing that.”

Nevada Hospital Association weekly report.

And for the first time, Clark County hospitals formally requested staffing assistance from Governor Sisolak’s office this week. The state has turned to Battle Born Medical Corp., which formed at the start of the pandemic to help ease the burden on health care resources. Retired medical professionals and volunteers are being recruited to help hospitals. The state is also working with nursing schools.

NHA said there is “no current timeline for governmental assistance to arrive.”

The report also included a grim quote from Michael Ryan with the World Health Organization who said “we won’t ever end this virus – what we can end is the public health emergency.”

There is a positive sign in the report. The monitoring of Clark County wastewater indicates the rate of omicron is starting to recede.