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COVID hospitalizations increasing with Omicron: How are vaccines holding up?

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More than 2,600 people are hospitalized with COVID in Virginia today, still 16.4 percent off last January’s second-surge peak, but the number would be expected to rise with the continued spread of the Omicron variant.

Based on our analysis of hospital and new case trends, the word for now seems to back the notion that vaccinations and boosters are holding up against Omicron, which, fingers crossed, is the good news here.

The Virginia Department of Health dashboard has recorded 137,004 new COVID cases over the past 14 days, according to our analysis.

At the mid-January 2020 peak during the second COVID surge, on Jan. 20, there were 3,125 COVID patients in Virginia hospitals, according to data from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

The 14 days preceding that peak had seen 68,663 new COVID cases recorded statewide, from our analysis of VDH data.

The data points would seem to be in line with the conventional wisdom regarding the Omicron variant. Reports from South Africa and Europe, which experienced the Omicron wave ahead of its spread in the United States, seem to indicate that the new variant is far more contagious, but also far less severe, particularly in people who have been vaccinated.

What we see in a comparison of the numbers from January 2020 to January 2021 is more hospitalizations at half the caseload compared last year’s wave.

The data seem to also hold in comparison to the late-summer wave associated with the Delta variant.

The peak in hospitalizations with Delta came on Sept. 21, with the VHHA dashboard reporting 2,211 COVID patients in Virginia hospitals on that day, and the VDH reporting 50,022 new COVID cases over the 14 days preceding.

That would work out to one hospitalization for every 22.6 reported new COVID cases at the Delta peak, compared to one for every 22.0 new COVID cases at the January 2020 peak, and one for every 52.5 new cases today.

Caveat: we’re not likely yet at the peak of the Omicron wave. The CDC, over the weekend, estimated that the peak is likely to come early next week.

We’ll continue to monitor the numbers to get a more complete picture as the new couple of weeks play out.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press