COVID-19 severity changing in Minnesota hospitals

Predictions proved true: Omicron variant was less severe, but its unprecedented spread increased hospital numbers


January 28, 2022

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

The number of COVID-19 cases requiring intensive care have declined this month in the omicron pandemic wave. However, doctors warn that ICU cases remain as severe as ever.

An unprecedented COVID-19 surge filled Minnesota hospitals this month, but doctors are seeing fewer severely ill patients and a more manageable pandemic wave.

Minnesota reported more than 1,500 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday and more than 8,000 inpatient beds occupied altogether - levels that typically indicate overcrowding. However, a rising share of COVID-19 patients were admitted for other reasons and their mild or asymptomatic infections were discovered upon routine screening.

Half of more recent COVID-19 patients in HealthPartners' hospitals in Minnesota and western Wisconsin were such "incidental" cases, said Dr. Greg Siwek, a HealthPartners infectious disease specialist. "It's not as if omicron can't lead to some severe outcomes; it certainly can. But the number of new consults we're getting for severely ill COVID patients is definitely less than it was a couple months ago."


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