Covid-19 admissions fall to less than 100,000 in the United States, but heavy burden continues
Covid-19 admissions fall to less than 100,000 in the United States, but heavy burden continues

Covid-19 admissions fall to less than 100,000 in the United States, but heavy burden continues

For the first time in more than a month, there are fewer than 100,000 hospital beds in use for patients with Covid-19 nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health.

That’s a 38% drop from a few weeks ago, when Covid-19 admissions peaked at more than 160,000 beds in use at one time.

Despite the promising trends, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it was still too early to change the guidelines and loosen Covid-19 prevention restrictions.

Hospital admissions are an important barometer, especially at the local level where decisions are made, she said at a briefing from the White House Covid-19 Response Team on Wednesday.

“Cases and hospitalizations are falling. This is obviously encouraging. And it’s obviously making us look at all our guidance based on the latest data and science and what we know about the virus,” she said.

“Of course, we’re taking a closer look at this in real time, and we’re evaluating transmission speeds as well as speeds for severe outages while we look at updating and reviewing our guidance.”

But there is no “magic number,” Walensky said.

“Are hospitals able, you know, to take care of car accidents, heart attacks and strokes that routinely come in the door because they are unable to take care of patients with Covid-19? And right now across the country “Our hospitals are still in a state of crisis. They still have real challenges with capacity,” she said in a radio interview with WYPR’s Tom Hall on Tuesday’s edition of the show “Midday.”

Current hospital admissions have now dived below the peak from the Delta rise and the first winter rise, but they are still higher than they have been during the vast majority of the pandemic.

“Regardless of the downturn that you see in certain areas, it’s a bit like we’re going from a crisis that was almost catastrophic in some cases to just a serious emergency. So we’m still in a very difficult situation,” Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, told CNN.

Admission rates are highest right now in West Virginia, with 61 Covid-19 admissions for every 100,000 residents. That’s twice the national average and four times higher than in Vermont, where there are fewer than 15 Covid-19 admissions for every 100,000 residents.

It’s too early to be hopeful, Jim Kaufman, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association, told CNN.

“There is a sense of cautious optimism, but we do not know what is coming,” he said. “We do not know if there is another variant. We know that there are many patients who need care that have been postponed, which we also have to take care of, and we know that our staff is exhausted. I think that’s the critical balance: How do you take care of your employees mentally, physically and emotionally while still taking care of the needs of your community? “

White House officials are considering life after the pandemic, but there is still no clear plan

Overall, about 1 in 7 beds are currently in use on Covid-19, and there are about 18,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units across the country, according to HHS data.

And in the past week, more than a quarter of U.S. hospitals reported a critical staff shortage.

Although the strain on the supply of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves has diminished and vaccines have helped improve results, there are a different set of problems now than a year ago – including staff burnout and low blood supply, Pollack said.

“The workforce is stretched incredibly thin and it takes its toll,” he said. “It has been frustrating and exhausting and heartbreaking for those who are in the front line.”

A growing proportion among children

Seniors 65 and older have consistently represented a disproportionate proportion of Covid-19 admissions, accounting for about 17% of the U.S. population but more than 40% of admissions since the onset of the pandemic.

Should parents be concerned if their child's school no longer requires masks?  An expert weighs in

However, an increasing proportion of Covid-19 admissions are among children. Nearly 6% of all admissions in the last week of January were among children, according to preliminary data from the CDC, a larger proportion than any other point in the pandemic.

Children under the age of 5 are not eligible to be vaccinated, and the vaccination rate among children lags behind in adulthood. Less than a quarter (23%) of children aged 5 to 11 and 56% of those aged 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated compared to almost three quarters (74%) of adults 18 and older.

And unvaccinated people have a particularly high risk of hospitalization.

In December, hospitalization rates were 16 times higher among unvaccinated adults than they were among fully vaccinated adults, CDC data show. Among seniors 65 years and older, hospitalization rates were 51 times higher among the unvaccinated than among those who were fully vaccinated and boosted.

Federal Covid-19 hospitalization data have been examined because they do not distinguish between the patients being treated for Covid-19 and those who test positive after being admitted for another reason, especially in the midst of the spread of the very transferable Omicron variant.

ONE CDC study involving a detailed clinical review of patient records at a Los Angeles hospital showed that approximately 20% of patients admitted with Covid-19 during a period of Omicron prevalence were admitted for other reasons.

The study did not compare the proportion of patients admitted to Covid-19 with other periods to know how it may have changed.

However, the study’s authors note that any patient who tests positive for Covid-19 still requires the use of isolation rooms and personal protective equipment and poses a transfer risk to staff, potentially exacerbating staff shortages and hospital congestion.

“The pandemic health burden is not limited to hospitalizations for symptomatic Covid-19,” they wrote.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been about 4.4 million total Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to CDC data. In the first week of February, there were about 13,000 new Covid-19 admissions every day, about 25% less than a week earlier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.