CDC confirms Omicron less severe than other variants
The COVID-19 Omicron variant became predominant in the United States by late December 2021, leading to a surge in COVID-19 cases and associated emergency department visits and hospitalizations. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting that 93.1% of all positive COVID-19 cases in Dubuque County throughout the month of December were Omicron. The other 6.9% were Delta.
New data published yesterday by the CDC show that illnesses caused by Omicron are less severe than previous variants, but have still strained US healthcare systems due to the sheer volume of cases.
Despite Omicron causing the highest reported numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the pandemic, disease severity indicators, including length of hospital stay, ICU admission, and death, were lower than during previous pandemic peaks.
Although disease severity appears lower with the Omicron variant, the high volume of hospitalizations can strain local health care systems and the average daily number of deaths remains substantial. This underscores the importance of national emergency preparedness, specifically, hospital surge capacity and the ability to adequately staff local health care systems. In addition, being up to date on vaccinations (including boosters) and following other recommended prevention strategies are critical to preventing infections, severe illness, or death from COVID-19.