Delta Covid Hospital Admissions Rise Again As Omicron Lands in US

Andrew Pawson, 30, a coronavirus (COVID-19) patient recovering from more than a month in isolation wards, holds his wife Isobel’s hand in his room at Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho, USA, October 28, 2021. …

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

The number of Covid-19-related hospitalizations in the US is on the rise again, even though health officials disagree with the news that an omicron variant has been discovered in the country.

It’s too early for omicron to influence the number of cases or hospitalizations in the US, where the delta variant still accounts for more than 99% of all new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the country is still far from the delta peak in early September, when more than 100,000 patients were hospitalized with the virus, severe cases have begun to return with colder weather in the north and people gathering to celebrate major U.S. holidays.

Some 56,000 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the Department of Health and Human Services 7 days before Wednesday, up 8% from the previous week and 20% more than the country’s most recent low point on November 10.

The rise in hospital admissions follows the latest spike in infections in the country. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, average daily cases peaked at more than 172,000 per day in mid-September, then dropped sharply and then stabilized at a high level of 70,000 to 75,000 new cases per day for nearly three weeks until early November. … The number of cases then increased again, reaching an average of nearly 96,000 per day on November 24, before Thanksgiving interrupted reporting in many states.

According to list maintained by Hopkinsand many delay reporting on holiday weekends. Combined with the fact that many states have cut their daily Covid reports down to weekdays or even once a week, it can take local agencies days or weeks to clear test logs and report new cases that have occurred in the days leading up to holidays.

This is why the number of reported coronavirus cases and deaths at the state and country level tends to drop sharply in the days following the holidays, and then skyrocket as the backlog is cleared. The latest US average fell to 86,000 daily cases as of Wednesday, for example, and is likely to rise over the next week.

Hospitalizations, which measure the number of patients in hospital beds with Covid, have historically been more stable during vacation periods and less dependent on reporting interruptions.

A combination of colder indoor weather, drier air, vacation travel and partying are some of the reasons for this latest flare-up, according to Dr. Bruce Lee, professor of health policy and management at the City University of New York. York School of Public Health. He added that some Americans who contracted Covid early in the pandemic or were vaccinated in the spring and have not yet had a booster vaccine may also have weakened immunity.

At the same time, the number of vaccinations in the United States increased, but at a slower pace. Almost 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC on Tuesday. However, it has been almost four months since that figure reached 50% in early August. It took just over two months for the nation to rise from 40% to 50% and in less than one month from 30% to 40%.

“Our vaccination rates are still not where they should be, and I think that despite our best efforts, we are faced with a future in which it seems that many people who are not vaccinated are not going to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, Senior Director, Infection Prevention, Johns Hopkins Health System.

This will make it harder for the United States to get Covid to a place where it is “endemic,” which will mean it will not be completely eradicated, but will become more manageable and one of the respiratory viruses the country is fighting against, Maragakis said. present time. annually.

“This will not happen as long as we have a large number of unvaccinated people,” she added.

These trends have been observed even before the news of the omicron variant, which South Africa reported about a week ago. While the global scientific community is researching the strain’s transmissibility and whether it could cause serious illness or avoid vaccine protection, Lee said nothing has changed about what the US should do to reduce the risk of Covid.

“This is a reminder that we have to take all these precautions because we thought the winter tide was coming anyway,” he said. Vaccinations and boosters, wearing masks, social distancing where necessary, and maintaining good ventilation are still key tools in the fight against the spread of the virus.

As with the entire pandemic, the current outbreak varies by region, with hotspots moving from the southern United States, where the delta wave hit earlier and hardest over the summer, to the Midwest. Population-adjusted hospital admissions are highest in the Midwestern states, where they have risen 31% over the past two weeks.

“Some regions of the US don’t feel it,” Maragakis said, “but of course, when I talk to colleagues in Utah, Michigan, or a few other states, they really are in crisis.”

There are over 4,300 Covid hospitalized patients in Michigan, according to CNBC’s analysis of HHS data, the highest per capita Covid hospitalization rate in the country. Patient volume, staffing problems and the duration of the pandemic have made the wave “more complex than previous bursts,” said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, a 14-hospital system in the western part of the state. …

The 464 Covid patients in Spectrum Health hospitals as of Wednesday is the highest rate in the system as hospitals are so overcrowded that there is limited ability to transfer patients who require more attention to other beds throughout the system, for Covid or more common health problems such as heart attacks or cancer.

According to Elmouchi, the vast majority of those hospitalized with Covid are not vaccinated – 91% at the end of last week. There are more cases of breakthrough infections, but in most cases they do not necessitate intensive care.

Spectrum Health recorded about 140 coronavirus-related deaths in November, a high number but below a record 192 in December last year, despite a higher hospital admission rate this year.

The federal government dispatched two Department of Defense medical teams to Michigan in response to request from Governor Gretchen Whitmer for additional staff, one of whom will work with Spectrum Health.

It will be some time before any impact on transmission of the virus from Thanksgiving gatherings becomes visible in national Covid numbers. In addition to the complexities of reporting data on holidays, it will take two to four weeks for infections to be detected and reported, depending on the time it takes people to develop symptoms and test positive, and to publish cases. “State and local systems,” Lee said.

U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths peaked after the 2020 holiday season, averaging over 250,000 infections and 3,400 deaths per day in January 2021.

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