- The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals surpassed last winter’s peak over the weekend and the US on Monday recorded a single-day record of 1.5 million Covid cases.
- A vast majority of patients enter hospitals for something other than COVID and test positive once admitted.
- Even though the Omicron type causes less severe disease, US hospitals can still be stressed due to the high patient volumes and staffing shortages.
The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals surpassed last winter’s peak over the weekend and the country on Monday recorded another single-day record of nearly 1.5 million new cases, two grim milestones as the country The U.S. health system grapples with the highly contagious Omicron type.
As of Sunday, 144,441 Americans had been hospitalized with the virus, according to data tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services, up from 142,315 patients reported a year earlier on January 14, and the number as of Tuesday. reached 147,000. ,
The country reported nearly 1.5 million new cases on Monday, pushing the seven-day average to 754,000 new cases per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
To be sure, a large proportion of Covid hospitalizations seem to stem from people admitted for other reasons, who test positive for the virus once admitted. And while hospitalizations are the highest on record, HHS didn’t start collecting data until August 2020, so it doesn’t capture the first initial surge of cases.
The daily number of confirmed infections is also likely to be artificially high as several states report their weekend Covid testing data on Monday.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Monday that nearly half of the city’s people are hospitalized with Covid, for example, and on Monday. Press release The New York State Department of Health reported that 42% of the state’s hospitalized patients were admitted for something other than COVID. National data is not available as most states do not track that level of detail in their Covid cases.
The case count is likely to be low due to the availability of home testing kits, the results of which are usually not reported to state or federal agencies.
The White House’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said last week that a growing body of evidence indicates that the COVID-19 variant is less severe than the delta strain. More data is needed to confirm this, he said, warning that the sheer volume of infections and hospitalizations could still overwhelm hospital systems.
“A certain proportion of a large number of cases, no matter what, are going to be serious,” Fauci said. “So don’t take this as a sign that we may be backtracking from the recommendations.”
Infections are rising in almost every part of the country and as of Monday, the average daily cases in 28 states are at a record high. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia are reporting record levels of current hospitalizations, according to a CNBC analysis of HHS data in the summer of 2020.
“There’s a lot of infections nationwide right now, and by the end of it, maybe 30% to 40% of the US population will have been infected with Omicron,” said Scott, a former FDA commissioner, Pfizer board member, and CNBC contributor. Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.
The strain on the health system is compounded by the fact that many hospitals have staff shortages due to labor shortages or health workers are being forced to self-quarantine after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The challenge, and it also exists in this boom, is staffing,” said Louisiana state health officer Dr. Joseph Cantor. Full Court Press with Greta van Susteren on Sunday.
“It’s very hard to retain employees for good reasons. It is very hard to recruit new employees,” he said. “It’s the biggest limiting factor for our hospitals. It’s not physical beds, it’s not ventilators, it’s not PPE right now. It’s just putting enough qualified staff on board.”
Illnesses among employees are affecting industries beyond healthcare. American Airlines earlier this year canceled thousands of flights during the holidays due to a series of covid infections and winter storms among employees. CEO Scott Kirby told employees that United Airlines was cutting its schedule to address the increase in sick calls among employees.
United has about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for Covid, Kirby said in a staff memo published on Monday, about 4% of its US workforce.
US health officials have warned that the most significant risk from Kovid remains to those who have not been vaccinated. Roughly 63% of Americans are fully immunized, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows, and 36% of those who are fully vaccinated have received a booster dose.
“This is a very clever virus,” Fauci told lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday. “It’s fooled everyone all the time – from the time it first came out in Delta to now Omicron – it’s so unpredictable and we’re doing the best we possibly can.”
According to Hopkins, the US is reporting an average of seven days of about 1,650 Covid deaths per day, which is rising, but was about half the peak levels seen this time last year before vaccines were widely available.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and a member of the board of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Etion, and biotech company. Illumina, He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘ And Royal Caribbeanof “Healthy Cell Panel.”
CNBC Jessica Bursztynski, spencer kimball, And Leslie Joseph contributed to this article.