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Despite the increase in hospitalizations, omicron causes less serious illnesses

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Despite the increase in hospitalizations, omicron causes less serious illnesses

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Although the United States is seeing more Covid-19 cases and related hospitalizations than ever before, it appears patients aren’t getting as seriously ill as they did at the start of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The percentage of Covid patients admitted to intensive care units is lower than ever, as is the percentage of patients requiring mechanical ventilation, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study.

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About 13% of hospitalized patients were admitted to intensive care in the past month, compared to about 18% from December 2020 to the end of 2021.

And those who are in the hospital don’t stay in the hospital that long. The average hospital stay recently was 5.5 days, compared to 7.6 to 8 days in previous waves of the pandemic.

The agency said the downward trend is likely due to a variety of factors, including an increase in vaccinations and boosters, and immunity from previous Covid infections. It is also possible that differences in the omicron variant make it less virulent than previous strains.

Yet healthcare systems are overwhelmed with Covid patients, as well as coronavirus-related visits to urgent care clinics and emergency departments, due to the large number of omicron cases.

“This underscores the importance of public health preparedness efforts, particularly surge capacity in hospitals and ensuring the ability to adequately staff health systems,” the CDC report authors wrote.

The speed of spread of omicron is unprecedented. The variant, first identified in southern Africa just two months ago, now accounts for 99.9% of all new Covid cases in the United States, according to the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker.

But omicron’s meteoric rise is showing signs of slowing. Across the country, cases are down. And in the week ending Jan. 15, the CDC said, emergency room visits appeared to start to decline, as did an increase in hospitalizations.

The daily Covid death toll remained high at around 2,000 a day, the CDC reported. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky recently noted that many of the deaths are among those previously infected during the delta surge.

An NBC News analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services echoes the trend. Although hospitalizations have increased by 13% in the past two weeks, the overall numbers have started to decline. Hospitalizations fell in 11 states and Washington, DC

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Despite the increase in hospitalizations, omicron causes less serious illnesses

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