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U.S. COVID hospitalizations approach record high, but new data could provide a silver lining

According to a new tally by Reuters, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States could reach a new record high by Friday.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have spiked in recent weeks to almost 123,000 as the more infectious but probably less deadly Omicron variant takes its place as the dominant strain of the virus. The record currently stands at around 132,000. Hospitals are being overloaded as cases flood in and infected health care workers are forced to call out sick.

Even as hospitalizations from the virus increase, though, deaths remain steady.

Additionally, many analysts have expressed concerns that hospitalization numbers are overinflated. Data released Friday by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) revealed that for more than half of the COVID patients in New York City hospitals, "COVID was not included as one of the reasons for admission," Fox News reported.

In other words, it is likely that many of these patients were admitted to the hospital for reasons entirely unrelated to COVID, then happened to test positive. However, NBC New York reports that although this data suggests Omicron is a "milder" strain, only "people who are fully vaccinated" should feel reassured.