COVID-related hospitalizations in the U.S. reached new highs over the past two weeks as the Omicron variant continues sweeping through the nation.
Hospitalizations generally lag confirmed case counts by a couple of weeks. Hospitalization data from the Omicron wave may be inflated by so-called "incidental patients" — those who were hospitalized for something other than COVID-19 and tested positive while admitted — but that is largely irrelevant if hospitals are overwhelmed.
“Remember that cases are the first to happen, and hospitalizations happened a few weeks later,” Dr. Adam Brown, an emergency room physician and COVID-19 National Task Force Chair, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “I expect to see that number continuing to rise over the next couple of weeks, which is frankly quite frightening. So we need to do a number of things in our communities, especially where the virus is spreading significantly, to reduce transmission.”
Communities have re-implemented mask mandates while many schools are shifting back to remote or hybrid learning to contain the spread of the virus.
“I don’t suggest throwing our hands upright yet,” Brown said. “But it’s complicated. What I will say is that any time there is a public health type of emergency or long-standing crisis like we have had, there is not going to be a silver bullet. There has to be a multi-pronged approach. So we need to implement those pieces of the puzzle where we can while we’re waiting for other things to come in supply.”
The rise in hospitalizations is troubling for several reasons.
The surge indicates that there’s still a significant portion of the population — mostly unvaccinated — that is being severely impacted by the highly transmissible Omicron strain. According to the CDC, unvaccinated individuals are 20 times as likely to die from the virus.
And the influx of patients...