COVID-19 hospitalizations down 10 percent compared to 2021 peak

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COVID-19 hospitalizations down 10 percent compared to 2021 peak

The rate of Americans with COVID-19 who are ending up in the hospital has dropped 50 percent compared to the record highs seen a year ago, data shows.

While new coronavirus cases have more than tripled in the past few weeks and are currently averaging a staggering 490,000 per day, hospitalizations are not climbing as fast.

Three percent of those cases are being admitted in hospitals, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

That rate is down from the 6.5 percent of cases hospitalized at the beginning of 2021 when the average daily case count was roughly 250,000, according to CDC data.

New hospital admissions across the US averaged 14,700 per day last week.

Even though new hospitalizations spiked 60 percent compared to the week prior — they are still down from the peak of 16,500 per day this time last year when the vast majority of Americans were unvaccinated.

Chart showing rates of Covid hospitalization.
Hospitalizations have seen a recent spike, but are still down from the beginning of 2021.
CDC
At 2021’s peak, 6.5 percent of people with COVID were hospitalized.
CDC

While new cases may be exploding as the Omicron variant rages, deaths are stable and are about a third of what was recorded in January last year.

The number of Americans dying from COVID-19 is averaging about 1,200 per day — well below the record high of 3,400 a year ago, CDC data shows.

Public health experts say this current wave is different from the previous peak 12 months ago because the vast majority of the US is now vaccinated and Omicron appears to be a milder variant.

Doctors around hospital bed
There are also fewer deaths per day than 2021’s record-high numbers.
REUTERS
The daily cases has surged recently as Omicron spreads.
The daily cases have surged recently as Omicron spreads.
CDC

Omicron accounted for 95 percent of new infections in the US last week, the CDC said Tuesday.

In New York, the number of COVID hospitalizations surpassed 10,000 for the first time since May 2020, state officials said Tuesday. Of those, more than 1,300 patients are in intensive care units.

New hospital admissions in the Empire State were at 1,700 on Monday.

It’s unclear at this time how many of those patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms and how many later tested positive after being hospitalized for other reasons.

A coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient lies incubated in their isolation room on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, U.S., January 4, 2022
A COVID patient lies incubated in their isolation room on the intensive care unit at Western Reserve Hospital on Jan. 4, 2022.
REUTERS
Man receiving COVID test
In New York, over 10,000 people were hospitalized with COVID — the highest number since May 2020.
AP

Some experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say the focus should shift away from surging case numbers amid the Omicron wave — and focus instead on hospital admissions.

“It is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases,” Fauci told ABC News Sunday, adding that many infections were causing few or no symptoms.

Some experts pointed to how skyrocketing case numbers were a reflection, in part, of the influx of people getting tested before the holidays — as well as new testing requirements for workplaces.

Doctors in hospital room
Dr. Anthony Fauci says the focus should shift away from total COVID case numbers and to hospital admissions.
REUTERS
The holiday season saw an influx of people get tested for the virus.
The holiday season saw an influx of people get tested for the virus.
AP

Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine, has argued that case numbers have lost relevance.

“Hospitalizations are where the rubber meets the road. It’s a more objective measure,” Noymer told the Associated Press.

“If I had to choose one metric, I would choose the hospitalization data.”

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