President Joe Biden pledged to “shut down” the coronavirus when campaigning in 2020, but nearly a year after his first day in office, the U.S. is set to surpass record coronavirus hospitalizations this week.
As of Monday, hospitalizations in the United States totaled 141,386 people, just slightly short of the 142,273 record that was set on January 14, 2021. According to the Washington Post, the country will cross that record as soon as Tuesday:
If models of omicron’s spread prove accurate — even the researchers who produce them admit forecasts are difficult during a pandemic — current numbers may seem small in just a few weeks. Disease modelers are predicting total hospitalizations in the 275,000 to 300,000 range when the peak is reached, probably later this month.
As of Monday there were 23,524 covid patients in ICUs nationwide, compared with a record 29,591 on Jan. 12, 2021. About 1,200 hospitals — just under a quarter — reported a critical staffing shortage this week, and another 120 reported anticipating a staffing crisis within a week, according to data kept by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Fortunately, the omicron variant has continued to hold up its reputation for being less deadly than previous variants of the coronavirus, but the reported ease with which omicron spreads has created an upsurge in cases, leading to higher hospitalizations from both the unvaccinated and breakthrough cases. It should also be noted that hospitals have begun to distinguish between patients who tested positive upon arriving for other ailments and patients who are strictly suffering from the coronavirus:
Under Colorado’s crisis standards of care, emergency crews were told to consider not transporting to hospitals patients under the age of 60 who are not showing severe symptoms and who do not have a high-risk medical history.
At University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, about 61 percent of covid patients did not have coronavirus as their primary diagnosis, meaning they arrived seeking care for another reason but tested positive when checked for covid.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, which runs four public hospitals, reported last week that about two-thirds of its 150 covid patients were incidental cases, up from about 20 percent in last winter’s peak.
Just last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said that up to 40 percent of hospitalizations in New York were for patients who experienced other ailments and tested positive for coronavirus at the hospital.
“Think of all the other reasons people end up in a hospital,” Hochul said Friday. “You know, it’s an overdose, it’s a car accident, it’s a heart attack. So, I wanted to drill down into those numbers.”