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Hospitals say local cases mirror an early study showing omicron variant is less severe


Preliminary findings from a new study in Southern California show that the COVID-19 omicron variant causes less severe disease than other variants. And Connecticut health providers say that aligns with the kinds of cases they are seeing in local hospitals, which they say is good news as hospitalizations near the previous record from April 2020.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, looked at 70,000 COVID-19 cases in California and found that people with the omicron variant were half as likely to need hospitalization than people with the delta variant. Of those hospitalized, they stayed for a shorter period of time. Dr. Ajay Kumar of Hartford HealthCare says that’s true with local breakthrough infections.

“We are seeing individuals who have got vaccines and boosters have very short length of stay, mild or less-intense hospitalization compared to people who have not had boosters or vaccination,” he said.

The state reported on Wednesday that the daily positivity rate dipped to 21%, and it recorded 19 new hospitalizations from the day before. While the overall number of patients who tested positive with COVID reached 1,939 — just 33 cases shy of the record-high 1,972 in April 2020 — the chief medical officer of Yale New Haven Health says the strain is not as extreme.

Dr. Tom Balcezak told reporters that a smaller percentage of all COVID-positive patients at Yale New Haven Health are needing to go into intensive care units or be put on ventilators, compared with surges earlier in the pandemic. He said that’s a testament to the efficacy of vaccines.

Still, Balcezak warns that the omicron variant is still highly contagious, and the sheer volume of exposure places a burden on hospitals and staff.

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