US sees largest COVID-19 hospitalization bump since December

COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 10.3 percent for the week ending July 15, marking the largest weekly increase the U.S. has seen since December. 

According to CDC data, 7,109 patients with confirmed COVID-19 were admitted to a hospital for the week ending July 15, up more than 10 percent from the previous week, when there were 6,444 new admissions. 

Data also suggests emergency department visits for COVID-19 are increasing. For the week ending July 21, an average of 0.73 percent of emergency department visits in the U.S. were related to COVID-19, up from 0.49 percent the previous month. 

There is unlikely to be a significant spike in severe cases — largely due to existing immunity among the public — though some rise in severe disease is inevitable when the virus is circulating at higher levels, experts told Vox. William Schaffner, MD, former medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told the publication his surveillance network in the Nashville, Tenn., area showed COVID-19 hospitalizations have climbed from the mid-teens to the low 20s over the past few weeks. 

"The way I like to characterize it is it's smoldering along," Dr. Schaffner said. 

"U.S. COVID-19 rates are still near historic lows after seven months of steady declines. Early indicators of COVID-19 activity (emergency department visits, test positivity and wastewater levels) preceded an increase in hospitalizations seen this past week," a CDC spokesperson told CBS News. 

Overall, hospitalizations are down significantly compared to last summer's omicron surge, when new weekly admissions topped 44,000. 

Still, experts say it is important to consider the trends carefully given the widespread lack of test result reporting. 

"People are testing so infrequently for #COVID19 these days, so when we see a big jump in infections like this, pay attention. It's likely the tip of the iceberg," Tatiana Prowell, MD, associate professor of oncology at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a tweet


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