Medical Technology

As Omicron Surges, Hospital Beds Overflow, but ICUs Are Less Affected

Editor’s note: Get the most recent COVID-19 news and guidelines in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

The U.S. is seeing a increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19. However, fewer cases are severe enough for them to be moved to intensive care or require mechanical ventilation.

The Omicron variant appears to have less hospitalizations than previous waves.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of hospitalizations,” Rahul Sharma, MD, emergency physician-in-chief for NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told The New York Times.

He stated that “We aren’t sending as many patients into the ICU and we’re not intubating as many patients.”

The majority of Omicron patients in ICUs are not vaccinated or have seriously compromised immune systems, doctors told the newspaper.

In the present, more than 113,000 patients with COVID-19 are in hospitals across the country, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the United States 76% of inpatient beds were used. COVID-19 accounts for 16% of the beds..

Early data suggests that the Omicron variant may cause less severe disease. It’s much easier to catch the Omicron variant, so more people are infected, even those who have immunity. This is causing an increase in hospitalizations.

In New York City, for instance, COVID-19 hospitalizations have exceeded the highest point of last winter’s surge, the newspaper reported. Maryland Governor. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, noting that the state had more COVID-19 patients hospitalized than at any other moment during the pandemic.

“We’re really crushed mode,” Gabe Kelen MD chair of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine told the Times..

In the early days of the pandemic hospitals faced difficulties with having ventilators in stock and personal protective equipment doctors said to the newspaper. As more health care workers become positive, hospitals are now restricted in terms of hospital beds and staffing. Along with an increase in COVID-19-related cases there’s been an increase in hospitalizations related to other conditions like strokes and heart attacks.

According to the newspaper, some hospitals are considering the possibility of reducing elective surgery due staff shortages or the lack of bed capacity. In the meantime hospital personnel and administrators are keeping track of the numbers of cases to determine how many hospitalizations are likely to be high due to the Omicron variant.

“How high can it go?” I’m not able to tell you. Don’t know,” James Musser, MD chair of pathology and genomic medicine at Houston Methodist in Texas, told the Times.

He said, “We’re all looking at it, evidently very close.”


The New York Times: “In Omicron Hot Spots Hospitals are crowded But ICUs Aren’t.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Inpatient Bed Utilization by State.”

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