Some studies show that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is less dangerous to health than the earlier variants. Vaccinated people who have been given boosters tend not to get very ill at all. However, people who have not been vaccinated can still become extremely ill and a number of these people die.
COVID-19 currently infects about one million people in America today. That figure is much higher than at any other stage of the pandemic. Because of this surge, many hospitals have run extremely low on ICU beds. The number of people in the hospital due to COVID-19 infections recently crossed 150,000 as it continues to rise higher.
Some hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients have become understaffed, often because doctors, nurses, and other personnel are out because of infection. In some parts of the country, nurse shortages have been worsened because of strikes due to poor work conditions. To fill in staff shortages, some states have even called up members of the National Guard.
Bed shortages vary considerably by state. Last week, 85% of ICU beds nationwide were in use. Almost 32% were for COVID-19 infected patients.
In Rhode Island, 95% of ICU beds were filed and of these 38% were for COVID-19 infected patients.
It should come as no surprise that Rhode Island tops the list of high ICU bed use. Among all states, Rhode Island has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people based on the average of the last seven reported days. The national figure is 243. Rhode Island’s is 486. While the national number by this measure is up 113% nationwide in the last 14 days, in Rhode Island, the number has risen 160%.
Rhode Island’s hospitals have been given some relief. The federal government has sent a medical team to the state.
Dr. Saul N. Weingart, president of Rhode Island Hospital commented to the Providence Journal: “Having 20 or so skilled personnel will help a lot.” To truly help with the problem, that figure will need to be higher.
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