Omicron does not Create High Rates of Severe Illness and Death, Gov. Hochul reported

Omicron does not Create High Rates of Severe Illness and Death, Gov. Hochul reported

By Yehudit Garmaise

Although New Yorkers are testing positive for COVID at shockingly high rates, the severity of their illness is “much less than we have seen before,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said today in Rochester.

“Omicron has been with us for a solid month now: it was Dec. 2, 2021, when former Mayor Bill de Blasio and I announced our first cases in the city of New York,” the governor remembered. “Here we are a month later; and we have enough data to say, with certainty, that the cases are not presenting themselves as severely as they could have, or we had feared: so that is the silver lining.”

Gov. Hochul said that while the scale of people who are testing positive for COVID is alarmingly high, she is “grateful for what we are not seeing,” and that is large amounts of severe illness and death due to COVID: partly because 95% of New Yorkers 18 and older have had at least one vaccine dose, and partly because the strain has been found to create more less severe symptoms.

Thankfully, for instance, few New Yorkers who are hospitalized are in intensive care units, Gov. Hochul said, and the number of hospitals that just weeks ago were not offering elective procedures, so as to free up beds for potentially large amounts of COVID patients, has dropped from 32 to 21.

“We have taken 11 hospitals off the list of those who cannot perform elective procedures, and we’ll see whether that trend holds,” said the governor, who added that statewide, only 21 hospitals that are not offering elective procedures “is not that bad.”

Realistically, however, Gov. Hochul pointed out, “this could change very quickly.”

What is curious about the high hospitalization rate is that although many patients are testing positive for COVID because of its high rate of transmission, health officials are not yet sure what percentage of patients are actually receiving treatment primarily for COVID and not for other conditions.

Many COVID-positive patients in the hospital are asymptomatic for COVID, Gov. Hochul said, although their conditions may have been worsened by infection with the virus.

“We don’t yet have clear data,” said the governor, “and I always want to be honest with new Yorkers about how bad this is.

“Yes, the sheer numbers of people infected with COVID are high, but I want to see whether the hospitalizations correlate with that, and I am anticipating that at least a certain percentage overall are not related to being treated for COVID.”

Photo by Flickr 

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