A soldier carries a patient at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on December 30, 2021.
Joseph Precious | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday the deployment of six teams of military medical personnel to overcrowded hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico, a White House official said.
The deployments come as hospitals grapple with staff shortages as nurses and medical staff call in patients from Omicron amid a wave of patients with this highly contagious form.
The official said Biden will also say the administration plans to buy an additional 500 million Covid tests, on top of the 500 million it’s already buying, to distribute for free across America.
Hospitalizations for Covid-19 are higher than last winter’s peak, before vaccines were widely distributed. More than 152,000 people in the United States have been hospitalized with Covid as of Wednesday, an 18% increase from last week, according to data tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The United States reported nearly 900,000 new infections on Wednesday, bringing the seven-day average to more than 786,000 new cases per day — an epidemic record and a 37% increase from the previous week, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. .
An average of more than 1,000 hospitals across the country are currently reporting an acute staff shortage, according to HHS data. However, the number is likely to be lower as many hospitals have not reported their case as of Wednesday.
Dr. Gillian Schmitz, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said the pressure on frontline workers is now worse than at any other point in the pandemic.
“Many places across the country have reached the point where their reserve personnel are getting sick,” Schmitz told CNBC on Wednesday. “Pretty much the whole country right now is feeling this increase in the number of cases affecting employees.”
Biden announced his plan to deploy 1,000 military medical personnel to support hospitals in December, as Omicron quickly bypassed the Delta formula. FEMA also provides additional curves to the hospital and dispatches ambulances and EMS teams to help transport patients.
“It’s not enough,” Schmitz told CNBC on Wednesday. “I know everyone is trying to provide support as best we can, but there are limited resources even within our national structure.”
Epidemiologists have warned that the sheer scale of omicron infections still threatens to flood hospitals with patients, even if the variant is generally less severe than Delta.
In a study conducted this week, infectious disease experts found that Omicron patients in Kaiser Permanente Southern California were 74% less likely to be in intensive care and 91% less likely to die from the virus than people who had the delta variant. According to the study, none of the Omicron patients required mechanical ventilation.
According to the study, the overall risk of hospitalization was also 52% lower for Omicron patients than for those with delta. The hospital stay for Omicron patients was about three days shorter than that of their Delta counterparts.
Kaiser Permanente Southern California provides care to more than 4.7 million people. The study, which has not yet been reviewed, analyzed more than 52,000 omicron cases and nearly 17,000 delta cases.
Doctors and nurses have warned of staff shortages for months. The American Nurses Association in September called on the Biden administration to declare the nursing shortage a national crisis.
“The country’s health care delivery systems are overwhelmed, nurses are tired and frustrated that this ongoing pandemic is not in sight,” Ernest Grant, the head of the Afghan National Army, said at the time. “Nurses alone cannot solve this long-standing problem and it is not our burden to bear,” Grant said.
The Food and Drug Administration’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, told lawmakers on Tuesday that the United States must ensure that hospitals and other essential services are not disrupted when people call for illness.
Woodcock testified before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday: “It’s hard to address what’s really going on right now, which is that most people are going to get Covid.” “What we need to do is make sure that hospitals are still operating, and that transportation and other essential services are not disrupted while this is happening.”
CNBC Christina Wilkie Contribute to this article.
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