As cases appear to be starting to plateau, Covid-19 hospitalizations in the North East are down around 11% after peaking around a week ago and have also fallen slightly – around 6% – in the Midwest region, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. And new Covid-19 hospital admissions are starting to drop nationwide, a sign that the total number of hospitalizations may soon start to drop in all parts of the country as well.
The agency’s data includes both patients hospitalized due to complications from Covid-19 and patients who may have been admitted for something else but tested positive for Covid-19. This has been true throughout the pandemic, but the share of patients who fall into each category may have changed over time.
“All of the current data shows very encouraging trends, with many of our key health indicators steadily and substantially declining,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday. “But we are not off the hook. Even though we have been able to achieve considerable drops in the metrics, and they continue to drop, they are still much higher than they have been or where we need to. to be. “
Also this week, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced that the state was seeing a decline in Covid-19 hospitalizations, and intensive care and ventilator use, and in Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont said cases and hospitalizations are also declining.
And in New York, “the state’s positivity percentage is in single digits” for the first time since Dec. 20, Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday.
But in other parts of the country, a different picture. The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations has increased by around 15% over the past week in the West and by around 6% in the South – with many hospitals exhausted by the increase in patients and severe staff shortages.
CDC weighs in on ‘pivot’ of language on vaccinations
As the highly contagious variant of Omicron continues to spread, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to “pivot” its language around what it means to be fully vaccinated, the director said Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, during a briefing at the White House.
But the director stopped short of saying the definition of fully vaccinated needs to change, and instead focused on what it means to be “up to date” on Covid-19 vaccinations.
Fully vaccinated people who are eligible to receive a booster dose of vaccine but are not boosted are not considered “up to date” on their vaccinations, Walensky said.
“What we’re really working on is pivoting the language to make sure everyone is as up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines as they personally could be, should be, based on when he got his last shot,” Walensky said.
“So mostly right now we’re pivoting our language. We really want to make sure people are up to date,” she added.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the CDC had not updated its definition of “fully immunized” because their recommendations focused on “the quality of your protection rather than a definition “.
“It almost becomes a matter of semantics,” said Fauci, who noted that the terminology can confuse people.
“One of the things we’re talking about from a purely public health perspective is the quality of your protection, rather than the definition of whether or not someone is required to be required,” said Fauci, the leading national expert. infectious diseases. .
New studies argue for boosters
According to a CDC study that looked at nearly 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states, being boosted was 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations during a period of December and January when Omicron was the dominant variant. In comparison, getting two injections was 57% effective when at least six months had passed after the second injection.
According to the study, which looked at more than 200,000 visits in 10 states, being boosted was 82% effective in preventing visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers. In comparison, receiving two injections was only 38% effective in preventing these visits when at least six months had elapsed after the second injection. This study was published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
A second study, published in the same place, concluded that people who received three injections were less likely to be infected with Omicron. And the third study, to be published in the medical journal JAMA, showed that having a booster helped prevent people from getting sick with Omicron.
“I think it’s the third dose that really gives you the best protection,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime CDC vaccine adviser who wasn’t involved in the studies.
CNN’s Mirna Alsharif, Deidre McPhillips, Katherine Dillinger and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.