Covid Hospitalizations Surging Again; Study May Explain Omicron’s Speed – Kaiser Health News

ABC News reports that 41 states and territories have reported increases of 10% or more in their daily number of covid admissions. CIDRAP reports on a study that showed patients infected with omicron shed more live virus eight days after illness onset than those with the delta variant. In other news, White House adviser Susan Rice tests positive for covid.

ABC News: Hospital Admission Totals Tick Up After Weeks Of Rising COVID-19 Cases

Following weeks of increasing infection rates, a growing number of Americans are heading into the hospital in need of care. On average, nearly 2,400 virus-positive Americans are being admitted to the hospital each day, up by 17% in the last week, according to federal data. Forty-one states and territories have reported increases of 10% or more in their daily number of COVID-19-related hospital admissions. (Mitropoulos, 5/9)

Bangor Daily News: Maine’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Are Up 46 Percent Over Past 10 Days

Maine’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen 46 percent over the past 10 days. That comes as a surge in cases accompanying the spread of the so-called stealth omicron variant — BA.2 — gains a foothold in Maine, erasing for the moment gains the state made in reducing hospitalizations since the winter. There are now 209 Mainers infected with the virus in hospitals across the state as of Monday morning, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 205 the day before and up from 143 just 10 days earlier. It’s the highest Maine’s hospitalizations have been since Feb. 23 as they were falling off sharply from the peak set during the winter’s omicron-fueled surge in infections. (Burns, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times: California COVID-19 Deaths Near 90,000

As of Friday, California had reported 89,851 cumulative deaths since the start of the pandemic, up 269 from the previous week. At this pace, the state is likely to surpass 90,000 COVID-19 fatalities this week. No state has suffered more total pandemic-related deaths than California. However, on a per capita basis, California has the 11th-lowest cumulative COVID-19 death rate — with 229.5 deaths for every 100,000 residents, according to data compiled by The Times. Roughly a year ago, a similar analysis revealed California had the 22nd lowest cumulative COVID-19 death rate of any state. (Lin II and Money, 5/9)

On spotty case counts —

The Washington Post: D.C. Hasn’t Reported Daily Covid Case Counts To The CDC Since April 27 

The D.C. health department has not shared data with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since April 27 on the number of new coronavirus cases in the District or on any deaths from the virus, as cases inch upward again elsewhere in the region. … The District stopped reporting daily case data on its own website two months ago, saying it was time to treat coronavirus less like an emergency and more like an endemic illness, but it continued providing case counts to the CDC — which makes the data public — on a sporadic but fairly frequent basis. That stopped April 27, and local officials have not answered questions from reporters about why. On Monday, a spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said the city health department is looking into why its normal practice of reporting numbers to the CDC has stopped. The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Weil, 5/9)

Houston Chronicle: Texas Medical Center Ending Weekly COVID-19 Data Updates

The Texas Medical Center announced Monday that it will no longer be updating its COVID-19 dashboard each week, even as virus spread is increasing in the Greater Houston area. The medical center made the decision to end the updates, which have been a weekly staple for the past two years, after concluding that the virus can now be effectively managed. (MacDonald, 5/9)

In other news about the spread of covid —

Politico: White House Adviser Susan Rice Tests Positive For Covid 

White House Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice has tested positive for Covid-19 — the latest case amid a string of top U.S. officials who have contracted the virus. “This morning I tested positive for COVID-19. I’m feeling fine and grateful to be vaccinated and double boosted,” Rice tweeted on Monday afternoon. Rice said in the tweet she last saw President Joe Biden in person on Wednesday while masked, and “and under CDC guidance he is not considered a close contact.” (Hooper, 5/9)

Houston Chronicle: Peter Hotez Tests Positive For COVID-19

Houston vaccine expert Peter Hotez has tested positive for COVID-19, the physician said Monday. “Looks like I’ve tested positive for COVID, moderate symptoms of fatigue, headache, sore throat, isolating at home doing zoom meetings,” he posted on Twitter. “I’m grateful to have been vaccinated/boosted, which certainly prevented more severe illness. Just started Paxlovid. Transmission up, be careful.” (Ketterer, 5/9)

Also —

CIDRAP: COVID Study: Omicron Patients Shed More Live Virus Than Those With Delta

Hospitalized South Korean patients infected with the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant shed more live virus 8 days after illness onset than those with the Delta variant, finds a study published today in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. … The authors said that the study, using culture positivity as a proxy for infectivity, may help explain the recent global Omicron surge. (5/9)

CIDRAP: Study: Dogs Can Sniff Out COVID-19 Infections With High Success Rates

In a study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers showed canine olfaction—or dog sniffing—was both highly sensitive and specific when it came to identifying patients with COVID-19, even those who were asymptomatic or presymptomatic. The researchers, based in Hawaii, exposed dogs to sweat samples from 584 participants (ages 6 to 97 years; 24% positive SARS CoV-2 samples and 76% negative SARS CoV-2 samples). Samples were collected from cotton pads runs cross the necks of participants, and the dogs had no prior history of scent training. During the first part of the study, the testing phase, the dogs detected SARS-CoV-2 from cotton pad samples with a diagnostic sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 92%. (5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Think You Have Long Covid Symptoms? Here’s How To Get Help

You had Covid-19 weeks or months ago, yet you still aren’t back to normal. You can’t exercise the way you used to. You’re depleted after a day of work. Or you may have unusual sensations, like a racing heartbeat when you stand up and difficulty concentrating at times. Could it be long Covid? And if so, how can you find out and get the medical care you need? (Reddy, 5/9)

Stat: The ‘Five Pandemics’ Driving 1 Million U.S. Covid Deaths 

Officially, the U.S. will almost certainly reach an awful milestone in the next two weeks: its one millionth recorded Covid-19 death. In reality, this milestone was likely unofficially crossed days or weeks ago, and we’ll never know the exact toll or the identity of the pandemic’s actual millionth victim. Nor are humans well-equipped to fully grasp loss on this scale, let alone the magnitude of a global toll estimated to be as high as 14.9 million. One way to start understanding how a country as advanced as the U.S. lost so many people is to look at the ocean of public health data that was gathered as 1 million individual tragedies rippled through civic life. Analysis of the data will continue for years, but it is clear that, when it comes to deadliness, there were five different pandemics — depending on when and where you lived, and who you were. (Parker, 5/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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