SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – With a week and a half until Christmas, health officials are urging people to have a COVID-19 safety plan in place. Both Sanford and Avera say they are seeing high numbers of coronavirus patients in the hospital.

“We all have COVID fatigue, we are all tired of hearing about this week in and week out, but it’s not going away and it continues to increase,” Dr. David Basel with Avera Medical Group said.

Dr. Basel says all 37 of their hospitals are running at full capacity. Dr. Mike Wilde with Sanford Health says of the 224 COVID-19 patients in their hospitals, about 92 percent are unvaccinated.

“We continue to have concerns that as our hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients, we will not be able to provide prompt, quality care to our patients who are coming in with other medical needs,” Wilde said.

It’s been one year since the COVID-19 vaccines became available in South Dakota. Health officials stressed once again that they are safe and effective.

“We have come a long way since that day but we still need help getting the message across that the vaccine, with booster, is your best protection against COVID-19,” Wilde said.

Basel, Wilde and Dr. Charles Chima, the Sioux Falls Public Health Director, are urging everyone to stay protected from COVID-19 this holiday season.

“How do we stay safe? If you have family coming over, do you know their status, do people need to get tested, do we need to have plans for masks when we’re indoors? Or should we have the event outdoors if the weather permits,” Chima said.

“This is about protecting yourself, protecting your loved ones, about protecting your community,” Basel said. “It’s going to take an effort from all of us and we will get there but please help us through this holiday season.”

The doctors also urged people to get the booster shot before the holidays. Health officials also remind everyone to continue wearing masks in public places.