COVID-19 hospitalizations have hit a record high in the US as the Omicron wave sweeps the nation

COVID-19 hospitalizations have hit a record high in the US as the Omicron wave sweeps the nation
A medical worker in full PPE reads a message on a computer screen while with a patient who has covid-19 in a negative pressure room in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on January 4, 2022.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images
  • The US hit a record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday.
  • Nearly 146,000 COVID-19 patients were in inpatient beds Tuesday, the HHS reported.

As the Omicron variant surges across the country, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US have hit a record high, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

On Tuesday, nearly 146,000 people with COVID-19 were in inpatient beds. That number broke the previous record set in January 2021, according to the data.

While case numbers are continuing to rise in the US because of the highly infectious Omicron variant, hospitals across the country are dealing with staff shortages, which has forced some to ask COVID-19-positive staff to return to work, Insider previously reported.

Just over 30% of intensive-care-unit beds in the country on Tuesday were occupied by COVID-19 patients, and 80% of ICU beds across the nation were in use, the data showed.

US COVID-19 hospitalizations for all age demographics hit a record this month, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed. Hospitalizations of children are at the highest point since the pandemic began, though the number of children hospitalized is still lower than the totals in other age groups.


Hospitalization rates may not show Omicron's actual effects. According to the US's top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and public-health data, many COVID-19 hospitalizations may be "incidental" — which means the patient came to the hospital for other treatment but tested positive during a general screening.

New York City health officials have noted a similar trend, saying more than half of COVID-19 patients in the city were admitted to the hospital for a different reason.

Still, the record hospitalization numbers in the US tell a unique story about the effects of the Omicron variant in the US versus other countries.

South Africa, which was among the first nations to detect the Omicron variant, had a lower hospitalization rate during the Omicron surge than during its previous wave driven by the Delta variant.

One model from a Columbia University researcher predicted the Omicron wave would hit its peak in the US in mid-January.


The US averaged more than 750,000 new cases and more than 1,600 deaths a day in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data.