The omicron-driven surge has sent COVID-19 hospitalizations skyrocketing across the U.S., reaching a new pandemic high this week with 145,982 patients hospitalized. From a report: This exceeds the previous high recorded in January last year, according to data tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services, from more than 5,400 hospitals in the country. Patients with COVID now fill about 30% of ICU beds in the nation and pediatric COVID hospitalizations are also at the highest rate of the pandemic. The record-breaking numbers are a sign of just how quickly the omicron variant has swept across the country. Overall, infections are also at record levels, with the U.S. averaging more than 700,000 new cases a day. And researchers and health workers warn that the crowded conditions could be leading to a rise in avoidable deaths, as clinicians struggle to provide the level of care they would normally. “Things are looking grim and substantially worse in many ways than even just a year ago,” says Dr. Doug White, a critical care physician at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.