Aug 3, 2021 - Health

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging to last summer's levels

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging once again, threatening to overburden some local health care systems just as badly as the waves that hit last spring and summer.

Why it matters: It's hard to argue that a person's vaccination status doesn't impact anyone but themselves when hospitals around the country are filling up.

Where it stands: More than 40,000 patients are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 infections.

  • Florida is setting new COVID-19 hospitalization records, forcing the state's largest hospital systems to limit visitors, expand coronavirus units and prepare for staffing shortages, ABC News reports.
  • Hospitalizations in this wave of the pandemic "clearly will surpass waves 1 and 2," tweeted Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research.

Between the lines: The vast majority of hospitalized coronavirus patients are unvaccinated.

  • But a very small percentage of vaccinated people do develop COVID-19 infections, and small percentage of that small percentage do require hospitalization.
  • As the number of overall cases continues to grow, so will the number of breakthrough hospitalizations — but not nearly as quickly as hospitalizations among the unvaccinated.

What we're watching: In many states where the virus is taking off, there's no political appetite at all for the mitigation policies that would help slow Delta's spread.

  • That means the steep increase in hospitalizations can and will get worse — straining more health care systems and potentially disrupting entire communities' access to care.
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