The surge of Omicron cases striking much of America has left many hospitals nationwide without the staff necessary to treat patients.
According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of 4,294 hospitals in overseas, 975, or 22.7 percent, do not have enough nurses and doctors to meet current patient volume, Fox News reports.
The agency also reports that 79 percent of inpatient beds nationwide are currently occupied, with 21 percent of best being used by Covid patients.
While those figures are not quite crisis level, it means that many facilities do not have the necessary staff to deal with virus surges because of how hard the virus is hitting its staff.
Fearing these kinds of circumstances, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated guidance late last year to allow Covid positive health care workers to return to work more quickly.
Around 23% of U.S. hospitals are currently facing critical staffing shortages as many doctors and nurses are out due to Covid infection. Last month, the CDC revised its guidelines to allow health care professionals in facilities facing shortages to more quickly return to work. Pictured: A man receives treatment for Covid symptoms in a Rexburg, Idaho, hospital on October 28
Currently, a record 140,000 Americans receiving treatment in hospitals every day have Covid, though the figure is inflated by some people who show up for treatment for another condition and test positive while there.
Some U.S. governors have taken action to relieve pressure on their hospitals as the surge in patients continues.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has activated 445 members of the national guard to assist hospitals and food banks in the state, referring to the current Covid situation as a ‘war’.
‘But I cannot think of a higher calling right now in what is a war and the deadliest war in our lifetime of ensuring that we can increase hospital capacity by using the guard,’ he said at a new conference Tuesday.
Massachusetts has also activated 500 members of the national guard to deal with a recent Covid surge, including 300 assigned to help 55 cute care hospitals.
Maine and Ohio have made similar moves, activating National Guard personnel, to deal with surges and overwhelmed hospitals in the state.
Covid cases have sharply risen in recent days, with the average daily case count tripling to 760,000 per day in only two weeks
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency for overwhelmed hospitals this week.
The order, which will be in effect for 30 days, allows hospitals to expand bed capacity and add more staff.
More appointments can now also be performed virtually, to keep additional patients out of the hospital, and there are less regulations of staff hiring and roles.
According to new guidance issued by the CDC in December, a health care who tests positive can return to work as early as possible if they work in a hospital deemed to be a in a ‘crisis’ situation.
Even in hospitals that are not undergoing a crisis, health care staff that have received their booster shots are allowed to remain at work after Covid exposure.
In a boost to all industries, and a move that may have spurred more spread of Omicron, the CDC moved the standard quarantine time for a Covid infected American down to five days on December 27.
The move came in an effort to prevent staffing shortages in all kinds of industries, especially the airline industry which was hamstrung by Covid outbreaks late last year.
‘COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant have increased along with seasonal increases in influenza and other respiratory virus infections,’ the agency wrote last month.
‘The potential for a large number of cases raises serious concerns about societal impact due to illness, as well as isolation and quarantine requirements.’
While Covid deaths have increased by 10% in recent weeks, CDC chief Dr Rochelle Walensky says the less prevalent Delta variant is responsible for the uptick, not Omicron
While the Omicron Covid variant is very infectious, and is currently responsible for around 760,000 infections every day, it is more mild than previous strains.
Despite a tripling in cases over the past two weeks, deaths have only jumped by ten percent.
That increase may not even be attributable to the new strain, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, as she said Wednesday that many of the deaths still occurring from Covid are from the Delta variant – which only makes up two percent of total U.S. cases per the agency’s data.