Omicron hospitalisations: US faces Covid disaster with southern hospitals on brink

Joe Biden says coronavirus is 'not here to stay'

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The US received the variant several weeks after Europe but has reported caseloads almost 10 times higher. On January 10, the country recorded 1.35 million new infections, a new record. The flash of positive cases has had a knock-on effect on hospitalisations, which have climbed to unsupportable numbers in some states.

New data from the department of health and human services has shown the insurmountable odds some state health services face.

In the last week, the department recorded 150,000 new hospital admissions.

That steep increase has eaten into overall ICU bed capacity, meaning many locations could struggle to accept more Covid patients.

Countrywide, of the approximately 776,561 available beds, Covid patients take up 20.49 percent, more than a fifth.

In half of the country’s 50 states, capacity has dropped below 15 percent, and the south – where Covid rules are the most lax – has fewer than 10.

The department of health data showed 19 states have a hospital bed capacity of 15 percent or less.

These are scattered across the country and include states like California, Florida, Louisiana and Michigan.

Five, located primarily in the southern US, have an average availability of 10 percent or less.

They include Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, and outlier state Rhode Island on the east coast.

Texas is the least equipped of them all, with only seven percent of its ICU beds currently free.

Researchers believe the state’s already precarious position will likely continue to decline.

They claimed Omicron could break records before it recedes, and it was already dangerously close.

Texas recorded its highest number of hospitalisations – 14,218 – on January 11, 2021.

The latest data shows approximately 12,914 are taking up hospital beds in the state.

On January 10 this year, Anass Bouchnita, a researcher working at the University of Texas’ COVID-19 Modelling Consortium, said the peak wouldn’t come for another two weeks.

She told the Texas Tribune not to expect cases to reach this point until “the second half of January”.

Texas is fighting the new Covid variant on two fronts, with flu cases increasing alongside it.

After a mild season in 2020 and 2021, officials are detecting instances of ‘fluorona’ – the name given for a dual Covid and flu infection.

Flu is making a countrywide comeback as it returns to ‘normal’ levels, with positive cases rising.

On December 18, Texas reported a rate of 8.85 percent, up from 2.02 percent the week before.

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