Hospitalizations have steadily grown since late December, as Omicron quickly surpassed Delta as the leading strain of the coronavirus in the United States, though researchers believe Omicron will be less lethal than previous variations.
While judged less serious, health experts have cautioned that the sheer volume of Omicron infections could overburden hospital systems, some of which are already in trouble, owing to staffing shortages.
“I don’t believe we’ve reached the top yet here in the United States,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told NBC News’ “Today” programme on Friday, as schools and companies battle with mounting caseloads.
According to Reuters, the United States reported 662,000 new Covid cases on Thursday, the fourth highest daily US total ever recorded and just three days after a record of nearly 1 million cases was announced.
The seven-day average for new cases hit 597,000 for the tenth day in a row, while COVID hospitalizations reached nearly 123,000 and appeared poised to break the previous year’s record of over 132,000 in the coming days.
According to the tally, deaths, an indicator that lags behind case numbers and hospitalizations, have remained relatively stable around 1,400 per day, significantly below last year’s record rates, despite the fact that they generally lag behind case numbers and hospitalizations.
“Those numbers are still rising,” Walensky said, noting that while cases outnumbered hospitalizations and fatalities, rising hospitalizations were mostly among the unvaccinated.
According to the Reuters investigation, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. have all recorded record levels of hospitalised Covid patients in recent days.
However, hospitalisation data does not distinguish between cases of people admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 and so-called incidental positives: patients who were admitted and treated for issues other than Covid-19 and contracted the virus while in the hospital, and are counted in coronavirus hospitalisation numbers.
Incidental infections have occurred throughout the pandemic, but the astounding rate of Omicron’s spread has led state health officials to reconsider their disclosures.
Massachusetts hospitals will begin reporting whether admissions are main or incidental to Covid-19 next week, according to Kathleen Conti, a representative for the state’s department of health.
As the number of instances has increased, hospital systems in over half of the United States have been compelled to postpone elective surgery.
While many school districts have pledged to continue in-person instruction, others have faced ad hoc closures as the number of instances has increased. Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest school district in the United States, remained closed for a third day on Friday due to a teacher walkout over Covid-19 protections.
Schools can be opened securely, according to US and international officials, especially with readily available immunizations and boosters, and the CDC issued updated guidance for schools on isolation procedures on Thursday.
While the United States is currently combating a surge, the country will have to deal with the long-term consequences, according to Walensky.
“We are clearly looking forward to a period when Covid… will be an endemic virus,” the CDC chief told NBC.
Officials continue to promote vaccinations as the best form of Covid protection, despite the fact that federal requirements requiring them have proven politically difficult.
Later on Friday, the United States Supreme Court will consider whether to overturn President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for bigger companies and a separate similar rule for healthcare facilities.
The US Food and Drug Administration reduced the time between the initial series of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and a booster dose for people aged 18 and up to at least five months on Friday.
The regulatory decision comes only days after the agency approved a similar move, reducing the period for booster dose eligibility for the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to five months from six. The Pfizer booster shot is also safe to use in youngsters aged 12 to 15.