Daily COVID-19 case rates have now surpassed Delta’s US outbreak Hospitalizations have yet to measure up
As the highly contagious variant of the Omicron coronavirus continues to spread across the United States. This holiday season, the rate of detected daily COVID-19 cases has eclipsed those fueled by the Delta variant over the summer.
COVID-19 hospitalizations remain relatively lower than peaks at the start of the year, but the situation could worsen as tens of millions of Americans remain unvaccinated, putting them at risk. higher risk for complications and death.
Health and government officials have warned that the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm hospitals and healthcare workers.
“While there are fewer hospitalizations, that doesn’t mean zero. There are many places in the country where hospitalizations are increasing now,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Poppy Harlow on Friday. from CNN.
More than 69,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Christmas Eve, according to the data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
An increase of about 2% from last week, the figure remains below maximum hospitalizations during the delta outbreak and is half of January’s record.
But experts note that hospitalization figures tend to differ over time as some illnesses worsen, and researchers are still work to determine if Omicron is less likely to cause serious illness.
Twelve states have seen an increase of at least 10% in COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the past week compared to the previous one, according to HHS data.
This comes against the backdrop of a 48% increase in Covid-19 cases from last week, bringing the U.S. average of new daily cases to 182,682, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The number of cases exceeding the summer outbreak is a sobering indication of the spread of Omicron, as it quickly became the The most widespread variant in the United States this week.
And as COVID-19 testing shortages have led to long lines in many metropolitan areas before Christmas, some pockets of the country are reporting flare-ups.
COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County have nearly tripled in the past week, reaching 9,998 new cases for its roughly 10 million people, according to public health data. Hospitalizations, however, remained stable.
New York state broke its own daily record for COVID-19 cases on Friday, when it reported 44,431 new cases, a 14% increase from Thursday.
“It’s no surprise,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “It’s a very, very contagious variant.”
Hospitalizations in the state are also on the rise, but at a lower rate. Data on Friday showed that 4,744 New Yorkers were receiving COVID-19 treatment in hospitals, marking a 4.6% increase from Thursday.
THOUSANDS OF CANCELED CHRISTMAS FLIGHTS
The spread of the Omicron variant can also be partly blamed on thousands of flight cancellations across the world during the Christmas vacation when millions of Americans travel get together with family and friends.
At 11 a.m. ET on Christmas Day, Delta Air Lines canceled nearly 300 flights on Saturday and United Airlines recorded about 240 cancellations, according to the tracking website. FlightAware.
And while the weather may have been the reason for the cancellations, Delta and United have admitted struggling with staff due to the Omicron variant.
“Over 150 cancellations per day are expected Saturday and Sunday”, Delta said in a press release Friday.
JetBlue Airways on Christmas morning also canceled 120 flights, accounting for 12% of their scheduled trips, according to FlightAware.
SHORTENED ISOLATION PERIODS
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday a shortening of the isolation period for health workers who test positive for COVID-19. As long as they are asymptomatic and the test is negative later, the time limit can drop from ten days to seven.
“This isolation time can be further reduced in the event of a staff shortage,” the CDC said in a statement, noting an increase in COVID-19 cases due to Omicron.
The agency also recommended that healthcare workers do not need to quarantine “following high-risk exposures” to the virus if they are vaccinated and boosted.
Quarantine refers to those who have been exposed but have not been diagnosed with infection, while isolation refers to those who test positive.
Meanwhile, New York state launched a more extensive isolation policy on Friday, which allows essential workers fully vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19 to return to work after five days if they have no symptoms and had no fever for 72 hours, the governor mentioned.
Hochul did not explicitly define who is considered an essential worker, but she explained that it includes those working in healthcare, sanitation, grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants.
CNN medical analyst Dr Leana Wen said on Friday she supported the new isolation rules.
“I think it’s really important for us to do that, because at this point we are facing a potential collapse of our critical infrastructure,” Wen said. “This is why for healthcare workers it is so important that we preserve the ability of our hospitals to function – but also public transportation and grocery stores as this holiday season approaches. And so many other essential workplaces may in fact have a severe shortage of workers. “
AVOIDABLE HOSPITALIZATIONS COST BILLIONS, ESTIMATED TO FIND
As hospitals and health officials prepare for Omicron, more research is underway to analyze the early stages of the pandemic.
During the Delta wave that began over the summer, there were an estimated 690,000 preventable hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the United States that cost nearly US $ 14 billion, according to new estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
About 1.2 million hospital admissions were recorded between June and November 2021, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For their analysis, KFF used data from the CDC to estimate that 85% of those hospitalizations were unvaccinated people.
Hospitalizations for which COVID-19 was not the main cause were excluded, as well as those which could not have been avoided by the vaccines because they are not 100% effective.
Using various studies, KFF estimated that the average hospitalization would cost around US $ 20,000, and preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations totaling US $ 13.8 billion over a six-month period.
“The monetary cost of treating people unvaccinated for COVID-19 is borne not only by patients but also by society in general, including public programs funded by taxpayers and private insurance premiums paid by workers, businesses and individual buyers, ”the analysts wrote.
“While there is of course a societal cost to developing and distributing vaccines, vaccines save the U.S. healthcare system money in the long run by avoiding costly hospital admissions.”