Top U.S. health agencies say that the number of people hospitalized with COVID across the country is rising rapidly as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to spread.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 146,000 people across the country were hospitalized with COVID as of late Tuesday morning. About 24,000 of those hospitalized are currently in hospital ICUs.
Those levels are nearing all-time pandemic records. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 7-day average of the number of people hospitalized with COVID was about 110,000 as of last Friday. The pandemic peak for the seven-day average of hospitalizations came in January 2021, when 124,000 people were hospitalized.
The CDC also says that deaths are now on the rise as well. The 7-day average number of COVID deaths was 1,500 on Sunday, up from about 1,100 a week prior. However, deaths are still far below the pandemic peak of an average of 3,300 a day.
According to the CDC, the U.S. is currently averaging a pandemic-high 330,000 cases a day as omicron spreads across the country. While the variant does evade vaccinations at a higher rate than previous strains, health officials say those who are vaccinated and have gotten a booster shot are far less likely to suffer a severe case of COVID.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House medical adviser, has indicated that data shows vaccines offer "substantial" protection against omicron and that the strain likely causes less severe infection in vaccinated people when compared to past variants.