Americans out sick because of COVID-19 surges to record 8.8 million

A record of 9 million Americans are out sick due to the current surge of novel coronavirus cases in the country, representing about 6 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to data collected by the Census Bureau.

Between Dec. 29 and Jan. 10, 8.8 million people told the Bureau they were not working due to COVID-19 diagnosis or were taking care of someone with an illness. 

Another 3.2 million people told the Bureau they weren’t working due to concerns of the virus spreading and getting infected from it, up 25 percent from December. 

“Time and time again, we see that this economic recovery is tied to the pandemic and public health measures,” Luke Pardue, an economist with payment service Gusto, told CBS News.

The new figures are the highest since Census began doing the survey around the start of the pandemic, topping last January’s peak of 6.6 million workers out, according to The Washington Post.

The U.S. is currently dealing with a winter surge of COVID-19 infections as the omicron variant has taken hold across the nation.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continued to increase nationwide in the first week of January.

The health agency also said the omicron variant now accounts for 98 percent of virus cases in the U.S., CBS News reported. 

The Labor Department also reported 286,000 first-time jobless claims last week, which was a jump from 55,000 jobless claims from the previous week and the highest total since October, the Post reported. 

Oxford Economics’s Nancy Vanden Houten told CBS News she expects new claims to return to about 200,000 a week once the omicron wave passes.