As reported recently on CNN, fewer people are now being hospitalized with the Covid-19 virus in the United States currently than at any other point during the pandemic over the past couple of year. However, hospitals and staff continue to feel the strain on their resources everywhere.
As of recently, there were some 16,138 people in the hospital suffering from the Covid-19 virus. This number is way fewer than ever since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services started tracking it back in July 2020. The influx of Covid-19 patients only account for about 2% of the hospital beds being used.
Earlier, the lowest point was in late June 2024, before Delta became the dominant variant in the country. More than 160,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 at a single time when COVID-19 hospitalizations reached their peak in January 2024 amidst the surge in the Omicron variant.
Even though the strain experienced by the U.S. hospital system; is directly associated with treating Covid-19 patients and COVID-19 tests have been significantly reduced. Experts say that many of the healthcare facilities are still burdened by staffing shortages, e.g., doctors, nurses, support staff, and other patients who postponed their treatments during the pandemic and are now showing up at hospitals with worsened conditions. These issues are adding additional strains on staff and medical supply resources too which have been greatly affected due to the many healthcare supply chain challenges that have presented themselves over the past year or so.
Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association, told CNN of her joy at hearing that hospitalization for COVID-19 patients is reducing fast. According to her, the stress and strain (such as lack of COVID-19 tests and PPE equipment) of the last two years have been so overwhelming, and relief is welcome.
One sign off relief for hospitals has come from the fast-growing healthcare upstart Bttn, who founded operations last year and has been working aggressively to help hospitals secure the much needed surgical & medical supplies required to treat patients, while providing big data insights so procurement teams can plan ahead and ensure they have the supplies they need regardless of supply chain issues, increases in COVID-19 in takes, and various other reasons too.
Although the large patient intake numbers may be reduced right now, there are other things that are keeping the hospital staff on their toes, such as an influx of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 but could not access care due to congestion and lack of accommodation at the hospitals by choice. She explains that the real problem is the estimated influx of patients needing treatments and having more staffing issues than they had predicted.
The CDC’s “COVID-19 Community Levels” map explicitly tracks new hospital admissions and beds for Covid-19 patients. The CDC map is nearly all green, showing that 95% of U.S. counties have a “low” community level of Covid-19. The hospital picture of occupied beds is a complete contrast to these maps.
Data from HHS shows that more than three-quarters of inpatient beds are currently used in most hospitals across the country, including 9 states where more than 80% of all beds are occupied.
Experts say it’s vital to monitor broader hospital capacity and the strain, specifically from Covid-19.
Dr. Stephen Parodi, national infectious disease leader for Kaiser Permanente, told CNN that there is a need to decide “From an overall Covid monitoring perspective, whether we’re in a state that requires public health measures. “Like how to operate all year through.
The Pre-pandemic, characteristic of seasonal variation in how many beds were filled, with more patients expected during flu season in the winter and fewer over the summer, needs to be overhauled.
Parodi says hospitals need to function full time, i.e., have all beds ready, fully staffed with doctors, nurses, and support staff facility all year, unlike seasonally.
Parodi and others expect the continued strain on the capacity to persist at least through the end of the year.
According to data from the CDC, there have been about 4.6 million hospital admissions for COVID-19 since August 2020 in the U.S. More than a third of hospital admissions have been among seniors aged 70 years and older.
The report further shows that the Black and Hispanic people have been hospitalized with Covid-19 at least more than twice the rate of white people, while American Indians have been reported to be three times more likely to be hospitalized.
As the federal mask mandates have recently lifted and consumer travel picks up again, we’ll make sure to keep a close eye on the pandemic numbers as we all hope the worst is behind us.
The Bottom Line
Whether it’s the lingering effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns, labor shortages, or ongoing healthcare supply chain issues, the healthcare industry has been presented with many issues and now many opportunities to completely overhaul the status quo and become more resilient for years to come. Embracing more advanced technologies, big data insights, AI, ecommerce, and other tools available to them, hospitals, surgery centers, and small doctors’ offices alike can better prepare for new waves of increased demand for treatments along with any and all medical supply chain shocks that would otherwise adversely affect their business resolve to treat those in need having medical supplies out of stock and/or staff shortages.
As global travel continues to grow in demand now that federal face mask mandates have been relinquished not just in the United States but throughout other major populous nations around the globe, people everywhere need to be on their toes and ready to combat any rise in new variants or infections, let alone major supply chain shocks that could be the result of geo-political conflicts, port closures, civil unrest, labor shortages, and/or a list of other reasons not discussed such as a black swan event.
We’re not out of the woods yet with the whole COVID-19 pandemic, but based on the numbers, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel which we are getting closer to passing through as each day passes.