As the extremely infectious Omicron coronavirus variation spreads throughout the United States this Christmas season, the number of daily Covid-19 cases recorded has surpassed that driven by the Delta version earlier this summer.
Covid-19 hospitalizations have remained relatively low compared to earlier this year’s peaks, but the situation might deteriorate as millions of US public remain unvaccinated, placing patients at a greater risk of death and complications.
Government and health experts have warned that the Omicron variety poses a hazard to hospitals and health-care personnel.
“Although hospitalizations may be less, that doesn’t mean zero. There are many places in the country where hospitalizations now are increasing”, said Dr. William Schaffner to CNN on Friday.
According to statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 69,000 US citizens were hospitalized with coronavirus on Christmas Eve. Despite an increase of about 2% from the previous week, the number remains below the peak hospitalizations seen during the surge of Delta virus and is half of the January record-high.
However, experts point out that hospitalization data tend to lag over time as certain diseases develop, and researchers are currently investigating if Omicron is less probable to cause serious sickness.
According to HHS statistics, twelve states have witnessed at least a 10% increase in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the last week compared to the prior week. This comes on the heels of a 48 percent surge in Covid-19 instances over the previous week, bringing the US daily average for new cases to 182,682, as per Johns Hopkins University.
The fact that case counts have surpassed the summer spike is a worrying sign of Omicron’s expansion, since it has fast become the most widespread variation in the United States this week.
In addition, while Covid-19 testing shortages caused lengthy queues in several urban areas before Christmas, certain sections of the nation are experiencing spikes.
According to public health statistics, 19 instances in Los Angeles County almost quadrupled in the previous week, totaling 9,998 new cases for the county’s approximately 10 million citizens. Hospitalizations, on the other hand, have remained stable.
On Friday, New York state shattered its own daily record for Covid-19 instances, reporting new cases counting 44,431, a 14% rise from Thursday.
“This comes as no surprise,” said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. “This is a very contagious variety.”
Hospitalizations in New York are also on the rise, but at a slower pace. Data from Friday indicated that 4,744 people in New York were getting Covid-19 therapy in hospitals, a 4.6 percent increase from Thursday.
Christmas Day flights canceled!
The spread of Omicron variety is also partly responsible for hundreds of airline cancellations for the Christmas holiday, when Americans travel to see family and friends.
Delta Air Lines has canceled 268 flights as of 12:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, while United Airlines had canceled 196, according to the flight monitoring website FlightAware. While the weather may have been a factor in the cancellations, United and Delta have admitted they have battled with staffing as a result of the Omicron variation.
“Upwards of 150 cancels per day are expected both Saturday and Sunday”, Delta stated in a statement Friday.
According to Flight Aware, JetBlue Airways canceled 120 flights on Christmas Day morning, accounting for 13% of its planned journeys.