The highly infectious variant of omicron has wiped out the delta strain across the United States, but the rise of the supposedly milder form of Covid-19 has so far done nothing to ease the burden on overburdened hospitals .
The omicron variant accounts for about 98% of cases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday. That number is based on data for the week ending Jan. 8 and represents a significant increase from just two weeks earlier, when omicron accounted for 71.3% of cases.
Omicron’s increased transmissibility, coupled with the immunity some have built to fight delta through vaccination and exposure, made conditions favorable for the “milder” variant, said David Wohl, professor at the institute. of Global Health and Infectious Diseases from the University of the North. Caroline-Chapel Hill. But experts warn that for those who aren’t vaccinated or suffer from other health conditions, infection with any variant of Covid-19 is a major concern. And without intervention, the data heralds dark days for a healthcare system already pushed to its limits, they say.
In many parts of the United States, the healthcare system “is crumbling under the weight of Covid patients,” said Neil Sehgal, professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “I started to wonder if this was the week the health care system was going to break down.”
The most recent data from CDC Nowcast predicts that omicron dominates the number of cases in all regions of the country. And while infections appear to peak in places that were hit early, like New York City, the majority of cities continue to see infections eclipse previous records and hospitalizations soar.
In Maryland, where Sehgal works, some hospitals have moved to crisis care standards, which means they have halted some elective surgeries and redistributed staff. Hospitals in several other states, including Colorado and Oregon, have declared similar crises. Sehgal said that on Tuesday, the Maryland Hospital Association advocated with the public for better adherence to preventative measures, such as masking, and again pushed for vaccination.
Some places are reinstating security protocols to try to ease the burden on local hospitals. As cases exploded in Utah last week, Salt Lake County Health Director Angela Dunn issued a county-wide mask warrant, taking the additional step of requiring face masks. respirator type, such as KN95, KN90 or KF94. The county said it will provide the masks free of charge to those in need.
Preserving the capacity of the health system is crucial, said Sehgal.
“If we don’t act now and act decisively, it will be too late,” Sehgal said. “Today’s cases are next week’s hospitalizations.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)