SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Hospitalizations in South Dakota have increased this week. On Monday, 238 coronavirus patients were in the hospital — on Friday that number is at 301.

It’s been about two years since we first started talking about COVID-19. That’s 24 months of stress and hardship for the people working on the front lines of the pandemic.

And with hospitalizations once again increasing, it’s taking a toll on health care workers.

“The way the morale is right now, I have never seen it, people are really burnt out,” hospitalist at Avera McKennan, Maryam Sheikh said.

“We are tired, I think our tolerance level is a bit lower than normal and we are getting a bit weary in terms of what this does mean from a health care perspective,” Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services, Sanford Health, Kelly Hefti said.

There’s a concern that the combination of people having gathered over the holidays as well as the omicron variant, could take another toll on the hospital systems.

“As we learn more about Omicron, I do think the increased transmissibility is significant, that coupled by the fact that symptoms do appear to be a bit more mild, individuals may think ‘oh this scratchy throat or runny nose is simply a cold,’ and so I do think mild symptoms that people are maybe not recognizing as potentially Omicron or COVID, may be influencing the transmissibility,” Hefti said.

And as more people catch the virus, hospitals will likely feel the pressure.

That’s why you’re encouraged to get vaccinated and get your booster shot.

“Most of the hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals and at least the most severe hospitalizations or long hospitalizations,” Sheikh said. “My message would be hang in there, we’re all in the same boat, but I think if you have health care workers in your family, in your friends, just give them grace.”

The South Dakota Department of Health also confirmed more omicron variant cases.