Omicron passes peak in Tri-county as hospitalizations rise

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:17 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:23 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As the omicron surge plateaus nationwide, officials at MUSC say omicron peaked in the Charleston tri-county area on Jan. 15.

Following the expected decrease in cases, however, MUSC is seeing an increase in hospitalizations.

MUSC’s data in the graph below show omicron’s surge in the tri-county all the way on the right. Cases fall immediately after it shoots up- a drop of nearly 25%. Nationwide, the drop in cases is over 30%, according to new CDC data.

MUSC data on COVID-19.
MUSC data on COVID-19.(Provided)

MUSC is reporting the number of COVID patients in their MUSC Health’s Charleston hospitals is now 178, up from 174 on Jan. 25 and 161 on Jan. 24.

“It’s a large proportion of the overall number of people in the hospital,” Sweat said. “Every one of those people, for some period of time, has to be isolated, and it takes a lot of effort and time to treat somebody in isolation. So it’s a really big burden on the hospital.”

Officials with MUSC say this peak could be a result of holiday travel in addition to the 2-to-3-week delay between initial infection and severe illness.

Dr. Michael Sweat with MUSC says that’s why we’re seeing this increase in hospitalizations right now. Sweat also says it takes even longer from initial exposure for someone to get sick enough to need hospitalization.

Last week alone, data from MUSC shows a steady increase from 161 hospitalizations last Monday to 178 by the end of the week- an over 10% increase. Despite this, Sweat says he does expect these numbers to go down in the near future.

While passing omicron’s peak comes as good news for the tri-county area and the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron isn’t as much of a concern as Omicron itself, Sweat says other variants could pose a much bigger risk, especially to those who are unvaccinated nor boosted.

Getting people vaccinated and boosted, he says, continues to be the goal.

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