Covid hospitalizations have skyrocketed across the U.S., reaching a new pandemic high this week with close to 146,000 patients hospitalized.
The surge, driven by Omicron, passes the previous hospitalization record set in January 2021. Infections are overall at record levels, with the U.S. now averaging 700,000 new infections a day.
Patients with Covid now take up about 30 percent of ICU beds across the country. Pediatric Covid hospitalizations are also at their highest rate yet. Nearly a quarter of 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. are reportedly facing major staff shortages, even despite efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s efforts to put healthcare workers back to work.
Hospitals are stressed out across the country, causing healthcare workers as well as state and hospital leaders to issue dire warnings, some of the worst yet in the pandemic.
The new rates mean hospitals could be on the brink of being overrun soon and may run out of capacity to care for patients admitted for non-COVID reasons. In New York, 40 hospitals have been ordered to stop nonessential elective operations for at least the next two weeks.
Other states this week, including Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, and Louisiana, authorized crisis standards of care or declared a state of emergency.
An infectious disease physician in Cleveland said the hospital she worked at is “filled to the brim,” with a completely full ICU, as well as completely full hospital beds, a lot of which is due to Covid infections.
Vaccinations have proven to significantly lower the severity of contracting Covid, meaning a less likely chance of ending up in the hospital or dying from Covid.
The majority of cases in the hospital come from unvaccinated populations. At least one in five people in the U.S. are still unvaccinated, with a vaccination rate nationwide of 62 percent. This is one of the lower rates in Western countries.