Covid Hospitalizations Reach All-Time High in United States

As Omicron sweeps across the nation, more Americans are being hospitalized with Covid-19 than at any other time in the pandemic. It’s an overwhelming milestone and a terrible warning that our healthcare system will be overwhelmed weeks before the variant is at its predicted peak.

Almost 146,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Tuesday, data from the health and social services showed. That is a record and twice as many as two weeks ago. The actual number of people hospitalized with Covid is likely to be even higher. According to a data analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from February 2020 to September 2021, hospital admissions numbers were under-counted throughout the pandemic, with only one in 1.9 Covid hospital admissions reported. The previous peak in hospital admissions came in January 2021 when HHS reported 142,246 Covid hospital admissions.

Still, the nation has not yet seen the worst of Omicron. Disease modelers have predicted that hospital admissions are likely to double again, reaching between 275,000 and 300,000 when the Omicron wave peaks sometime later this month. The Washington Post reported on Monday. However, many hospitals are already overburdened as healthcare providers struggle to keep up with the number of cases while ensuring adequate care. Some hospital systems intentionally keep beds open due to a lack of nursing staff. according to The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s definitely a brutal situation,” said Dr. Joseph Chang, Chief Medical Officer at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, the diary. Many healthcare providers felt burned out before the current peak, and the Omicron wave only made it worse. Both burnout and providers who tested positive for the virus have contributed to staff shortages. One hospital, Boston’s Mass General Brigham, tested 2,000 of its 82,000 employees positive for Covid in the 10 days leading up to Jan. 4, the newspaper reported. To cope with the influx of positive patients and dwindling headcount, some hospitals are ordering Covid-positive doctors, nurses and other providers to work earlier than at other times of the pandemic thanks to the CDC’s new condensed guidelines for isolation.

The stress that providers have had to endure over the past two years has taken its toll. According to Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine, between 60 and 75 percent of clinicians reported symptoms of fatigue, depression, insomnia, and PTSD in November. Nurses, he said, are just as stressed, if not more. Dzau added that roughly one in five healthcare workers left their jobs during the pandemic.

“The harsh reality is this,” wrote Dr. Craig Spencer, a doctor in the emergency room, in The New York Times On Monday. “Fewer providers mean fewer available beds because a team can only treat so many patients at the same time. It also means treatment is slower and patients spend more time in the emergency room. And the longer these patients stay in the emergency room, the longer others stay in the waiting room. The ripple effect will have an impact on all levels of the healthcare system, from nursing homes with few staff to ambulances that take longer to answer emergency calls. “

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