In Omicron Hot Spots, Hospitals Fill Up, but I.C.U.s May Not

Covid hospitalizations are surging, but a smaller proportion of cases is severe compared with previous waves. With staff shortages, some hospitals are still in crisis.

Emily Anthes and

In hospitals around the country, doctors are taking notice: This wave of Covid seems different from the last one.

Once again, as they face the highly contagious Omicron variant, medical personnel are exhausted and are contracting the virus themselves. And the numbers of patients entering hospitals with the variant are surging to staggering levels, filling up badly needed beds, delaying nonemergency procedures and increasing the risk that vulnerable uninfected patients will catch the virus.

But in Omicron hot spots from New York to Florida to Texas, a smaller proportion of those patients are landing in intensive care units or requiring mechanical ventilation, doctors said. And many — roughly 50 to 65 percent of admissions in some New York hospitals — show up at the hospital for other ailments and then test positive for the virus.

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