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Hospitals Packed with COVID Patients, but End May Finally Be in Sight


If you need medical care in a hospital for something other than COVID, it could be hard to find, depending on where you live. Even as the Omicron surge is declining, it's still undermining care for other health problems.

The good news is that the number of COVID-19 cases is finally falling in the United States. Omicron cases are dropping or leveling off in more than half the country. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the current wave could peak in February. "But if the pattern follows the trend that we're seeing in other places such as the Northeast, I believe you will start to see a turnaround throughout the entire country," he said.

But some hospitals are still overwhelmed, like Mercyhealth Hospital in Wisconsin. 

Mercyhealth Special Care Unit nurse Ashley Golz said, "Nowadays if you fall on the ice, you have a heart attack, you have a stroke, we don't have beds available for those types of incidents. All the beds are being pulled by COVID patients. Patients are waiting in the emergency room for days."

In some states, it isn't letting up at all. In Alabama, for example, cases have doubled in the past week. 

The U.S. recorded over 18 million new cases in the last month alone. That's more than a quarter of the nation's total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic.

Amid the surge, the FDA has expanded the use of remdesivir, an expensive and controversial treatment. And health officials are still saying your best defense is to be vaccinated. 

Dr. John Brownstein of Boston Children's Hospital said, "Unvaccinated are nearly four times more likely to be infected and 53 more times likely to die. That is huge numbers."

But on Friday, a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction barring the government from enforcing President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers. The Justice Department plans to appeal the decision.

Overseas, protests are expanding across Europe over vaccine mandates, Now, France and other governments are showing signs of backing down. 

In the U.K., with 74,000 NHS workers facing firing because they won't get the jab and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson fighting for his political life amid a scandal called "Partygate," Johnson has lifted restrictions including COVID-19 passes, mask mandates, and work-from-home guidance.

Dr. Ricky Allen said, "This is the end of the vaccine thing. It's going to implode now. Medical staff, nurses, porters, they won't have it. How do you justify it to the rest of the population?"

Ireland is also dropping its COVID restrictions, saying boosters helped it weather the Omicron storm.

Here in the U.S., demand for testing is on the rise, but the delivery of at-home rapid-tests has been delayed by ongoing supply chain issues caused by a combination of workers calling out sick with Omicron and bottlenecked warehouses.

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