Omicron pushes US hospitals to the brink
The extremely contagious omicron variant is fuelling an enormous coronavirus wave that is pushing hospitals close to their capacity limits in about two dozen states, according to data posted by the US department of health and human services.
At least 80 per cent of staffed hospital beds were occupied in 24 states on Thursday, including Georgia, Maryland and Massachusetts, the figures show.
More troubling, the data showed that in 18 states and Washington, DC, at least 85 per cent of beds in adult intensive care units were full, with the most acute scarcity of beds in Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas.
The pressure on ICU capacity comes as the omicron variant has touched off a nearly vertical rise in infections and hospitalisations. The country as a whole and 26 states have reported more coronavirus cases in the past week than in any other seven-day period.
In that time, an average of more than 803,000 coronavirus cases have been reported each day in the US, an increase of 133 per cent from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database, and 25 states and territories have reported their highest weekly caseloads yet. Deaths are up 53 per cent to an average of roughly 1,871 a day.
That has helped push the country’s average rate of hospitalisations above last winter’s peak. Hospitalisations of people testing positive for coronavirus over that week are up to more than 148,000 a day, a record. The numbers are rising fastest in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to the Times database.
Since Thanksgiving, the White House has sent more than 350 military doctors, nurses, medics and other personnel to 24 states to help hospitals with staffing challenges, President Biden said this week, and plans to send an additional 1,000 service members to six hard-hit states.
(New York Times News Service)