(Bloomberg) -- Omicron is stealing most of the attention, but it’s the delta variant of Covid-19 that’s pressuring the U.S. health-care system.

The seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed Covid-19 has climbed 18% in the past two weeks to 6,691, the highest since Oct. 13, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. The numbers are ticking higher in 39 states and the nation’s capital. 

The data show that delta has continued its march across the country, even as the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday artificially lowered Covid-19 case counts. Fewer people got tested, while government offices that report the information were closed or thinly staffed. Still, hospitals continued to fill up from New York to Arizona.

As scientists await more information on omicron’s virulence, severity and response to vaccines, the new variant could further press doctors and nurses. Fortunately, the latest cold-weather wave in the U.S. isn’t quite as bad as last year’s -- at least not in aggregate terms. 

The seven-day average of national hospital admissions with Covid are about half what they were at the same time last year, thanks to immunizations. Most hospital patients with the virus are unvaccinated, and more than 70% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

There have been regional outbreaks -- Colorado’s has been as bad as it has ever seen in terms of intensive-care unit impact -- but the infections have crescendoed in different places at different times. That means that cases and hospitalizations may remain stubbornly elevated even if they don’t surge dramatically as they did in 2020. 


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