HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A regional healthcare system is sounding the alarm about the surge in COVID cases. Officials at Lehigh Valley Hazleton say the rising numbers are concerning and are appealing to the public for help in slowing that surge.

Doctors at Lehigh Valley Hazleton (LVH) are issuing a plea for help. They say the surge in COVID cases is already starting to impact healthcare in the Hazleton area. They say the public can help them help the community.

“So the pandemic has come back very strong it’s had an impact on our hospital,” said Terrence Purcell, President of the LVH Northwest Region, Hazleton-Carbon.

Purcell was joined in a virtual news conference by doctors who are on the front lines at Lehigh Valley Hazleton to address the increasing number of COVID concerns in Hazleton.

“So far our hospitalizations continue to see an increase in patients. Our emergency room has been very busy a few days ago we saw 138 patients,” stated Purcell.

Purcell says Lehigh Valley Hazleton has 33 COVID patients, nearing the 41 patients they had a year ago when COVID cases were spiking.

The chief medical officer at Hazleton Dr. Anthony Valente says he knows why it’s happening.

“I think you can safely say that the reason we are where we are is because of the vaccination status of people that are coming to the hospital which the majority are unvaccinated,” stated Valente.

Dr. Valente says 79% of their hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated his concern is that the Hazleton area, which was a hotspot in the early days of the pandemic will once again be a hotspot.

“We have put our healthcare system in dire straits. We are getting very close to the point where we are not going to be able to administer safe care not only to COVID patients but also patients who are in our facility for other reasons like chronic diseases health issues and emergencies,” explained Dr. Valente.

So doctors at Lehigh Valley Hazleton urge people to get vaccinated and even if they are vaccinated to wear a mask.

“One of the big things to ask everyone when they leave their house is to put a mask on. It’s not mandatory in the state of Pennsylvania in public places but it should be in your best interests everyone’s best interest right now to mask anytime you’re outside your house,” stated Dr. Jodi Lenko, Vice Chair Department of Medicine, at the Lehigh Valley Hazleton.

Officials at Lehigh Valley Hazleton say COVID testing at sites operated by the lehigh Valley Network is busy every day.

As people in the community hear about the COVID surge we talked with folks Friday who went for a COVID test.

“We are here because my wife go the results she was positive this morning. We’re coming here because kids are out of school so we do safety and quarantine the next few days Go see where it goes from there for results,” explained Amiry Estevez.

We also reached out to other regional healthcare systems like Geisinger and Commonwealth health they too say they are seeing an alarming number of COVID cases in recent weeks.