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Experts Predict Surge in Omicron for the Upcoming Weeks

The current Covid-19 rise in the United States, spurred by the Omicron variety, may reach a nadir later this month, but the next few weeks are crucial, according to a health expert. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, cautions that long-term planning is necessary to minimise further strain on the health-care system as hospitals fill up, schools struggle to keep pupils in class, and testing continues tough to obtain.

According to US Department of Health and Human Services data, roughly 24% of hospitals are experiencing a “serious staffing shortage.” Nearly 1,200 hospitals, or roughly one in every four, told HHS on Saturday that they are currently facing a serious staffing shortage, accounting for the majority of the pandemic’s cases. More than a hundred additional hospitals have stated they expect a shortage in the coming week.

These staffing shortages are worsening as more frontline health care workers become infected with Covid-19 or are forced to quarantine as a result of exposure, just as demand for treatment soars: According to HHS, more than 138,000 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals as of Sunday. That’s up from over 45,000 in early November and not far off the all-time high.

Testing is one of the most important instruments in the fight against Covid-19, yet it is still difficult to come by in some parts of the United States. At least two health care providers have prioritised coronavirus testing for patients who are exhibiting symptoms of the virus, as laboratories struggle to keep up with the increased demand for Covid-19 tests driven by the surging Omicron strain. Multiple facilities of the University of Washington health care system in Washington state began prioritising testing for those who exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness or have been exposed to COVID-19 last week.

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