As though we needed a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, both cases and hospitalizations have begun to tick upward in recent weeks. The BA.2 subvariant, which is driving this surge, doesn’t seem to produce more severe illness overall, but certain vulnerable people are still at risk, and it’s important to keep tabs on the level of community transmission in your area: The CDC recommends taking additional precautions when local levels are “medium” or “high” to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. These are five states where COVID hospitalizations are rising quickest. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
According to the New York Times COVID data tracker, New Hampshire has seen the greatest increase in hospitalizations of all US states in the last 14 days: 73%. That’s an average of 91 patients, the highest level since March. But “While numbers are going up, the number of hospitalizations is small compared to where we have come from during the omicron surge,” Dr. Benjamin Chan, the state epidemiologist, told WMUR 9 News last week. He urged residents to be vaccinated and take advantage of antiviral treatments if they test positive for COVID. “Providers can prescribe these medications for people that may be infected with COVID-19 to prevent that person from progressing to more severe disease that could result in possibly hospitalization or death from COVID-19,” said Chan.
Last week, four major countries in Hawaii moved from “low” to “medium” community transmission status. Hospitalizations in the state are up 68% in the last 14 days. “COVID-19 isn’t going away. In fact, case counts are increasing and the experts expect that COVID will be with us for the foreseeable future,” said Gov. David Ige said on Apr. 27. “As part of the transition, COVID will be handled more like other diseases, something that healthcare providers diagnose and treat.” He urged all residents to be vaccinated.
In Vermont, the 14-day average of hospitalizations is up 60%, according to Times data. Half of Vermont’s 14 counties now report “high” levels of community transmission. The CDC recommends that people in “high” transmission areas take precautions such as wearing a face mask in public. People at higher risk might want to take additional precautions in areas where transmission rates are in the “medium” range.
COVID-related hospitalizations are up 46% in Connecticut over the last two weeks, the Times data indicates. But experts say that’s not as severe as surges seen earlier in the pandemic. “I think we have to be mindful of what’s happening around us. You know we’re seeing higher levels of community transmissions; we sort of have to go back to the things we’ve done all along,” Dr. David Banach, an epidemiologist at UConn Health, told NBC Connecticut last Friday. “We’re not seeing rising hospitalizations despite seeing a high level of transmission; we’ve got a lot of things to help mitigate the overall impact at this point.” He cited face masks, vaccines, and anti-viral medications.
“I think we’re in a much better position than we were in the past. We’re still seeing high levels of community transmission, but we aren’t seeing high levels of hospitalizations, we have a lot more tools in our arsenal, said Banach. “We are still seeing good support with vaccines in terms of protecting against severe infections.”
In Illinois, hospitalizations are up 41% over the past 14 days. Five counties in the state are now at “medium” community transmission, with none at “high” as of Friday. “Counties that do reach a high community level are urged to reinstate mask-wearing for all individuals indoors regardless of vaccination status and to consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities,” noted NBC 5 Chicago.
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear at N95 face maskdon’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’ t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.