Jan. 9 (UPI) — COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States are nearing a pandemic high, as states seek strategies to combat the surge in infections brought on by the Omicron variant.
As of Sunday, 138,326 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, accounting for 18.2% of inpatient hospital beds in 6,046 hospitals nationwide, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The total is just short of an all-time peak of about 142,000 in mid-January 2021.
A total of 766,036 inpatient beds, or 78.22% of inpatient beds at 6,174 reporting hospitals nationwide, are in use, HHS said Sunday.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a state of disaster emergency due to COVID-19 struggles this week and Steven Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, told CNN the state was close to implementing crisis standards of care.
“At some point, you say we’re too overwhelmed to do any of our normal daily work. We can’t even meet all of our patients’ demands, and at that point, we have to turn on a switch that says we go to triage to the people we can help the most and that means we have to let some people die who we might have been able to help but we weren’t sure about — they were too far gon or had too much of an injury, or maybe we can’t get to that trauma that just came in,” Stites said.
In New York, 40 hospitals were ordered to stop non-essential, non-urgent elective surgeries after meeting a threshold for low-capacity facilities established in an executive order signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 26.
New York reported a state-record 90,132 cases Saturday followed by 79,777 on Sunday.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has reported 59,767,342 COVID-19 cases and 837,264 deaths related to the virus, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. On Tuesday, a record 1.08 million cases were counted by Hopkins as states caught up from the holiday weekend.
Cases have been on the rise amid the presence of the more infectious Omicron variant, with Los Angeles County reporting more than 200,000 new infections over the past seven days on Saturday, its highest one-week total since the start of the pandemic.
In response to the surge, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order barring sellers from raising the price of at-home COVID-19 test kits by more than 10%. Newsom also sent additional Cal Guard members to expand capacity at 50 testing sites throughout the state and unveiled a $2.7 billion COVID-19 Emergency Response Package with funding to further bolster testing efforts.
Several states, including Massachusetts, Illinois and Oregon, plan to open mass-vaccination clinics in hopes to combat the rapid spread of the virus.
As of Saturday 246,447,823 Americans, or 74.2% of the population, have received at least one COVID-19 dose, while 207,452,448, or 62.5%, are fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Among fully vaccinated Americans, 36% have received an additional booster dose.