A dozen states have seen a “substantial” increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
COVID-19 hospitalizations started increasing over the summer but have started to drop in recent weeks. They are considered low for the vast majority of the country, according to the CDC. There were 19,079 admissions in the week through September 23, down 3.1 percent from the previous week.
However, there were 12 states where COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by more than 20 percent, which the CDC classes as a “substantial” increase.
Connecticut saw the highest increase (36 percent) in hospital admissions, followed by Montana (32.2 percent), Delaware (31.8 percent), Wisconsin (31.6 percent), New Mexico (29.5 percent) and New Hampshire (27.6 percent).
Six other states also saw an increase in hospital admissions of more than 20 percent: South Dakota, North Dakota, Maryland, Idaho, Nevada and Minnesota.
At the other end of the spectrum, three states saw hospital admissions drop by more than 20 percent, which the CDC classes as a “substantial” decrease.
Mississippi saw the biggest drop (-42.8 percent), followed by Alaska (-35.1 percent) and Florida (21.6 percent).
A CDC spokesperson told Newsweek earlier in the week that the agency’s genomic surveillance indicated that the majority of infections were being caused “by strains closely related to the Omicron strains” circulating since early 2022.
“While rates now seem to be plateauing, we are entering October, which is the typical start of the respiratory virus season,” the spokesperson said. “Even if hospitalization rates level off for a few weeks, they could increase in the coming weeks, and prevention is the best approach.”
In September, the Food and Drug Administration approved updated COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, and the CDC has urged just about everyone, including babies as young as 6 months, to get vaccinated ahead of the upcoming fall respiratory virus season.
About 2 million Americans have reportedly gotten the new shot in the two weeks since its approval amid a messy rollout that included barriers from insurance companies.
Amid reports that some patients were being charged as much as $190 for a shot at pharmacies, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra issued a public statement directed at “the health care payer community.”
“We should be completely aligned in our goals of getting everyone the updated COVID-19 vaccine,” he wrote. “With claims rejections in the thousands each day, we are missing opportunities to save lives together.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has said that vaccines will remain free for most U.S. residents through the Vaccines for Children Program, Children’s Health Insurance Program, most commercial insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. For those who are uninsured or underinsured, the CDC’s Bridge Access Program will provide free coverage.
A spokesperson for HHS told Newsweek that while there had been reports of “unexpected coverage denials at the point of service,” these were being addressed by the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.