ICUs nearing capacity in at least 18 states

At least 18 states have less than 15 percent capacity remaining in their ICU facilities as the United States grapples with surging COVID-19 cases, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data.

The states include Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire. 

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the U.S. reached a record high of 155,935 on Thursday, according to the HHS data, as medical facilities are already overwhelmed with staff shortages due to the rising risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection.

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In New Hampshire, National Guard personnel and federal emergency teams have been deployed to hospitals and long-term care facilities in need of assistance. Other federal medical teams are soon expected to go to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island to help stressed hospital systems, according to the White House. 

Earlier this week, a preprint study showed that patients with omicron had “substantially reduced risk” of severe outcomes compared with delta variant patients.

The recent study is "consistent" with other research surrounding omicron but still presents a problem for hospitals, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyStudy finds high levels of omicron-fighting antibodies four months after Pfizer booster Antisemitic fliers left at hundreds of Miami Beach homes Thousands descend on DC for anti-vaccine mandate rally MORE.

“While we are seeing early evidence that omicron is less severe than delta and that those infected are less likely to require hospitalization, it's important to note that omicron continues to be much more transmissible than delta,” she said. 

“The sudden and steep rise in cases due to omicron is resulting in unprecedented daily case counts, sickness, absenteeism and strains on our health care system,” she added.