Almost 23% of hospitals across the United States reported critical staff shortages on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, according to data released by the Human and Health Services Department.
Out of the 4,294 hospitals that reported to the department, 975 said that they do not have enough staff – nurses and doctors – to handle the situation.
This shortage comes as 80.8% of all ICU beds became full on Tuesday. Out of those, 30.8% were being used for COVID-19 patients.
Multiple states had to implement emergency measures to handle the shortage.
In California, the situation has become so dire that the state’s health department announced that nurses who test positive for the disease can stay at work if they do not show symptoms and only interact with COVID-19 positive patients.
The number of nurses messaging me that their hospital is forcing COVID+ staff to come to work after firing unvaccinated employees is wild. Vaccinated & sick = come to work. Unvaccinated & healthy = fired. Science!
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) January 11, 2022
On Tuesday 143 out of 199 hospitals located in the Golden State reported that they were faced with critical staffing shortages.
Health care workers worked in 2020 without a vaccine. Fired in 2021 for not getting the vaccine. Staff shortage in 2022.
Welcome to California. pic.twitter.com/RstAd60eDv
— Julius (@TodayWithJulius) January 10, 2022
According to CDC guidelines, healthcare workers who test positive for the disease can go back to work as soon as possible if a hospital had to go through “crisis mode.” In other circumstances, they are advised to wait five days before returning to work, as long as their symptoms are improving.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an order that allows medical workers from outside the state to work in Virginia. He also lifted licensing requirements and increased provider-to-patient rations for 30 days.
“Health care workers and hospitals are exhausted, and they are again facing increasing numbers of patients, affecting their ability to provide care,” revealed on Monday.
Multiple states have also deployed the National Guard to assist during the staffing shortage, including Maine, Massachusetts, and Ohio.
On Monday, the country set a new record for COVID cases, with 1,1406,527 infections, per CDC data. The 7-day case average is now at 750,996, which is thrice as high as the previous peak recorded last winter, which was at 250,454.
The Omicron variant, which, according to research, is more transmissible yet less lethal than other variants, now makes up for 89.3 of all new cases in the country