(CTN News) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached a new record low.
Preliminary data from the CDC reveals that only 8,256 COVID-19 hospitalizations occurred in the past week, marking the first time this figure has dropped below 9,000 since the CDC began tracking the metric in 2020.
COVID-19 Hospital Admissions
Key Indicator in Tracking the Virus: As the public health emergency ended earlier this month, COVID-19 hospital admissions remain one of the few metrics the CDC relies on to track the spread of the virus and provide recommendations.
Although recent changes in hospital testing practices may result in fewer infections being counted, hospitals must still report a reduced set of COVID-19 metrics to the CDC until April 2024.
Ongoing Reporting Requirements for Hospitals
Hospitals are obligated to report weekly COVID-19 metrics to the CDC, even as hospitalizations continue to decrease.
This reporting helps authorities monitor the situation and respond promptly if hospital admissions reach high levels in specific counties.
In such cases, the CDC plans to advocate for mask-wearing and other preventive measures to mitigate surges.
Previous Record Lows and Subsequent Surges
The current record low hospitalizations are reminiscent of similar trends observed in previous years. In 2021, COVID-19 hospitalizations reached their lowest levels in May and June, just before a surge in August due to the Delta variant.
Similarly, in 2022, hospitalizations hit record lows in late April following a massive Omicron variant wave. However, hospitalizations and deaths increased again in July and December.
The emergence of New SARS-CoV-2 Variants
While COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined, the presence of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to grow across the US.
The XBB.1.5 strains, which were dominant during the winter, have decreased by nearly half, making room for other closely related strains like XBB.1.16 variants (19% of infections) and the XBB.1.9 sublineage variants (17.9% of infections).
These variants do not exhibit significant differences and are now globally prevalent.
WHO Panel Recommends Updated Boosters Targeting XBB Strains
In response to the emergence of new variants, a panel of advisers from the World Health Organization (WHO) recently recommended updating COVID-19 boosters to specifically target the XBB strains of the virus.
The current boosters, considered “bivalent” vaccines, combine components targeting the original strain and previous Omicron variants.
The FDA is expected to convene a meeting of its advisers to evaluate and provide recommendations for manufacturing revised boosters to combat the evolving virus strains
The recent record low COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US indicate significant progress in controlling the spread of the virus. This positive development reflects the efforts made by individuals, healthcare systems, and public health initiatives to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. However, it is important to remain vigilant as new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge and circulate.