COVID- According to a Reuters count, 19 hospitalizations in the United States are on track to break the record set in January of last year, as the highly contagious Omicron form spurs a jump in the number of cases.
Hospitalizations have steadily grown since late December, as Omicron soon surpassed Delta as the most common coronavirus strain in the United States, however, researchers believe Omicron will be less lethal than previous variations.
Despite being judged less severe, health experts have warned that the sheer volume of infections caused by Omicron might put pressure on hospital systems, which have already begun to show symptoms of strain, partially due to staffing shortages.
“I don’t believe we’ve reached the top yet here in the United States,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Friday on NBC News’ “Today” show, as schools and companies grapple with mounting caseloads.
According to the Reuters tally, the United States reported 662,000 new COVID cases on Thursday, the fourth-highest daily number ever recorded in the country and just three days after a record of nearly 1 million cases were reported.
For the tenth day in a row, the seven-day average for new cases hit a new high of 597,000 new infections, while COVID hospitalizations reached nearly 123,000 and were on track to break the previous high of over 132,000 sets last year in the coming days.
According to the tabulation, deaths have remained relatively stable around 1,400 per day, well below last year’s record levels, despite the fact that they normally lag behind case numbers and hospitalizations.
“Those numbers are continually rising,” Walensky said, adding that while cases outnumbered hospitalizations and fatalities, increased hospitalizations were mostly among the unvaccinated.
According to the Reuters study, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. all recorded record levels of hospitalized COVID patients in recent days.
However, hospitalization data does not distinguish between COVID-19 cases and so-called incidental positives, or patients who were hospitalized and treated for reasons other than COVID-19 but got the virus while in the hospital and are counted in coronavirus hospitalization counts.
Accidental infections have happened throughout the pandemic, but they may be substantially greater today due to the rapid spread of Omicron, a phenomenon that has caused state health agencies to reconsider their disclosure policies.
Massachusetts hospitals will begin reporting whether COVID-19 admissions are primary or incidental to the virus next week, according to Kathleen Conti, a representative for the state’s department of health.
Increasing numbers of cases have pushed hospitals in nearly half of the United States to postpone elective procedures.
While many school districts have pledged to continue in-person instruction, some have had to close on an ad hoc basis as the number of instances has increased. The third-largest school system in the United States was closed for a third day on Friday due to a teacher walkout over COVID-19 protections.
Schools can be safely reopened, according to the US and other experts, especially now that immunizations and boosters are readily available, and the CDC issued updated guidance for schools on isolation procedures on Thursday.
While the US is currently combating a surge, Walensky believes the country will have to deal with the long-term consequences.
The CDC director told NBC, “We are absolutely looking at a day ahead of us where COVID… will be an endemic virus.”
Despite the fact that government laws for vaccinations have grown politically difficult, officials continue to promote vaccinations as the best protection against COVID.
The US Supreme Court will consider requests to overturn President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for larger companies and a separate requirement for healthcare facilities later on Friday.
For people aged 18 and above, the US Food and Drug Administration on Friday shortened the time between receiving the initial series of the Moderna (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine and receiving a booster dose by one month to at least five months.
The decision comes only days after the FDA announced a similar decision, reducing the time between booster shots for the Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from six to five months. The Pfizer booster shot is now officially approved for children aged 12 to 15. find out more