TOPEKA (KSNT) – While the holidays bring joy and cheer, the indoor gathering brings worry and fear for local doctors.

Hospital staff have been seeing more COVID cases following thanksgiving and the surge in omicron around the U.S.

The state is now over 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Absolutely we have seen an increase, it started a little before Thanksgiving that over the past two weeks we have seen an increase, we’ve seen an increase of hospitalizations and an overall increase with people having the infection,” Topeka ER and Hospital Physician David Hartig said.

While state results aren’t back yet, Stormont Vail leaders say they’re sure omicron is spreading rapidly in the area.

St. Francis is at 95% capacity, and “all hands on deck” staff wise.

At the new Topeka ER and Hospital near West Ridge Mall, Doctor David Hartig is preparing staff for the next wave following this holiday weekend.

“With large gatherings, depending on how safe people are I’m sure we’ll see a spike in COVID cases, especially with the Omicron variant. We’re hopeful based on the international studies and what we’ve seen in South Africa, hopefully it will be a fast spike and the disease severity won’t be as bad,” Hartig said.

The importance of being cautious over the holiday season cannot go understated.

“I know there has been advice given at the national level, about wearing masks and being vaccinated – but I think overall being safe and taking good precautions, not only for yourself but for your loved ones that you’ll be around,” Hartig said.

The Dr. indicated that the most common COVID patient they’re seeing at Topeka ER are those middle aged and unvaccinated.