Medical expert says our hospitals have not been under this type of duress since 1918

Stressed out health care worker in a hospital.
Stressed out health care worker in a hospital. Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

More people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 than at any other point throughout the pandemic, surpassing the previous spike set last year around this time.

According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, hospitalization numbers are not going to recede for at least a couple of weeks. He joined News Talk 830 WCCO's Chad Hartman, giving his prediction for the next few weeks.

"It's gonna get worse," Osterholm said while sharing that the CDC reported that there may be an additional 62,000 deaths reported in the next few weeks.

"We just have to be honest and say, it's not gonna get better, but how much worse is not clear," Osterholm said.

While there is an average of 1,700 deaths a day from the virus, Osterholm thinks the good news is that if we can get through the next three to four weeks, we will see case numbers drop drastically.

When it comes to the severity of the variant, Osterholm still thinks that omicron is a milder disease than previous iterations. However, he explained that it only means the percentage of infected people overall have a lower level of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

"Theoretically, if delta caused 100 out of every 1,000 people to be seriously ill or hospitalized, you might look at omicron, out of the same 1,000 people, and only 10 would be seriously ill or hospitalized," Osterholm said.

But still, the problem is that virus transmission is occurring at a much higher rate than delta, boosting all of the numbers we are seeing to their record highs, Osterholm said.

The next issue is what Osterholm has been calling the "perfect storm," where healthcare workers have been stretched thin throughout the pandemic, and now a large portion of them are infected with COVID-19.

"You have, really, a perfect storm moment," Osterholm said. "And so the quality of care in many of our hospitals around the country right now has been severely diminished. That's going to add to more deaths and more serious illnesses just because trying to provide battlefield medicine is very different than trying to provide it in the confines of a high-tech ICU."

This is one reason why Osterholm shared his support for the CDC's decision not to make hospital workers test negative before returning to work.

He says if they take the proper precautions and don't have severe symptoms, they can be used because the need is dire.

"I think our health care systems have not been under any kind of duress like they have since 1918," the doctor said.

As for what can be done now, Osterholm is urging people to remain safe and not get COVID because while it is a milder illness for most, it does not affect everyone the same.

"I urge people, please don't get infected now," Osterholm said.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign up and follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram