LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Omicron might not be as nasty as the delta variant, but hospitals are feeling the strain anyway, according to a new report from the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA).
“While omicron appears to be less virulent than other variants, the sheer volume of cases is stressing the hospitals combined with employee illness and required isolation days,” NHA said in its weekly update.
Hospitals have been nearly full for the past few weeks as the omicron variant spread like wildfire. Licensed beds in Southern Nevada hospitals have been at 98% occupancy, and the number of patients in intensive care has grown significantly — doubling from 154 on Jan. 1 to 315 in today’s reports. Statewide, ICU patients with COVID-19 went from 170 on Jan. 1 to 364.
“The rate of southern region COVID-19 hospitalizations is slowing down, while the northern region continues to accelerate,” according to NHA. That’s affecting doctors’ offices, skilled nursing facilities, public health departments and hospitals. It’s putting a strain on all medical care.
NHA also mentions the “stealth” omicron subvarient in its report:
“A new subvarient of Omicron (BA.2.) has been detected in several U.S. states and 40 additional countries. Scientists and public health agencies will watch and study the new subvariant separately from Omicron to see if it behaves differently. The World Health Organization maintains that BA.2 is not a ‘variant of concern,’ meaning there is no current evidence to suggest this new subvariant will worsen COVID-19 transmission, illness severity, or efficacy of vaccines and public health efforts like masking and social distancing.”
NHA has not changed any status levels for conditions it monitors, keeping staffing at “crisis” status in Southern Nevada and rural counties. Northern Nevada hospitals are on “alert” staffing status, and Southern Nevada is in “warning” status for: 1.) percent of patients in the hospital with COVID-19, 2.) percent of patients in ICUs with COVID-19, and 3.) hospital occupancy rates in general.
The promising pill forms of COVID-19 treatment are not widely available, according to NHA. Meanwhile, the prevalence of omicron has slowed the widespread use of some medications designed to combat other forms of COVID. Remdesivir is still widely used, and is now being given to some patients who haven’t been hospitalized.
And while supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) are not a problem, NHA says blood shortages have been a problem.