WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – There’s a growing concern in southern Kentucky that COVID-19 hospital surges, and doctors and nurses being overwhelmed will happen again early next year. That’s where vaccination rates are low, and cases are starting to increase again.

The patient load at Baptist Health Corbin is stable right now.

“Currently we are around 20, between 15 to 20 a day. We are seeing less of them require ICU care,” Dr. David Worthy with Baptist Health said.

Earlier this year the hospital was surging with more than 70 patients a day. With the new variant’s impact yet to be seen, doctors are fearing the worst.

“I am becoming dramatically more worried about what is going to happen here,” Worthy said.

He said he’s predicting a January surge with a broad-based peak.

“Delta was up and down real quick, this one looks like it will go up, stay up and last a little longer,” Worthy said.

Most local health departments are closed for the holidays, but the Whitley County Health Department reported 15 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 125 active cases. They said about 41.9% of the county has been vaccinated.

Laurel County reported more than 200 cases last week and has also had low vaccination rates.

Worthy said a booster shot will be the big difference with the new variant.

“But the booster really improves that. Somewhere like 55% to 60% effective. So we are really trying to drive home to get vaccinated and if you are in the window to get the booster, get the booster,” Worthy said.

He said the message they are going to be doubling down on for their staff and their community.

Worthy also said he doesn’t believe some treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies are going to be as effective with omicron.