COVID hospitalizations on the rise as U.S. enters Labor Day weekend



A huge spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S. at the outset of the Labor Day weekend has set alarm bells ringing. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 15,067 new COVID-19 patient hospitalizations took place in the week ending August 19.

The new cases have increased the number of people being hospitalized by 18.8% as compared to last week. The jump is a staggering 86.9% when compared with COVID-19 patients hospitalized last month. But, as compared to 2022 the number of hospitalizations is down by almost 61%.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on a steady rise for seven straight weeks and are expected to continue increasing. The CDC said it expects COVID admissions to range anywhere between 1,700 and 9,700 daily by the end of September. Cases have doubled in Los Angeles County in the last month, with nursing homes particularly affected, according to data from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

“There have only been a few times in the past year and a half when we saw this many new outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. “And these were during the previous summer and winter surges.” One in every four nursing homes in New Jersey have also reported an outbreak, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

Contributing to the spread are three new COVID variants — EG.5, FL.1.5.1 and BA.2.86. The CDC estimated on Friday that EG.5 is making up 21.5% of all new cases, while FL.1.5.1 is making up 14.5% of new infections and BA.2.86 makes up less than 1%.

Dr. William Schaffner, who specializes in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told CBS News there is cause for concern. “I think we ought to take note of it because there has been some spillover into hospitalizations,” Schaffner said.

The rise in the number of COVID-19 cases has had a ripple effect – retailers and pharmacies are reporting an increased demand for in-person and at-home COVID testing. Walgreens told CBS News in a statement on Friday, September 1, that it was “seeing greater demand in this category nationwide, which may cause temporary and isolated shortages.”

CVS told CBS News in its own statement that it was seeing a “slight uptick in requests for point-of-care COVID-19 testing at our pharmacies and clinics and in purchases of at-home COVID-19 test kits.” CVS noted, however, that it has “ample supply to meet our customers’ and patients’ testing needs both in-store, in-clinic and at”

Some hospital systems and medical facilities have reinstated mask mandates, including United Health Services and Upstate Medical Hospitals in New York, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center in Northern California, and UMass Memorial Health in Massachusetts.

“People who are older, who have underlying chronic medical conditions, who are immune compromised, and who are pregnant — we ought to get those masks out again, to protect ourselves,” Schaffner said.

The CDC has said a new COVID booster is expected to be available to the public by the end of September. “This is a nasty, sneaky virus,” Schaffner said. “Your protection will over time diminish. So even if you’ve had COVID in the past, once this new booster becomes available, you should get it.”


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