Omicron cases fall as COVID hospitalization rates near record highs

The latest data shows omicron cases have fallen in areas of the Bay Area that were hard hit just a few weeks ago.

However, as cases drop, health officials said COVID hospitalization rates near a record high.

Hospitals expect challenging weeks ahead as cases translate into a torrent of patients, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Though the highly infectious omicron variant is causing less severe illness than earlier strains of the coronavirus, most hospitals are about as busy this year as last as they deal with staffing shortages caused by profound physical and emotional fatigue among workers, health administrators said.

SEE ALSO: San Francisco sees decline in COVID-19 cases following recent omicron variant surge

"It’s pretty brutal. Every day COVID just keeps coming and coming and coming," said Paula Reimers, a respiratory therapist at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where workers recently picketed to draw attention to staffing problems. "Everybody is feeling the burnout, and probably more this year than last year."

Statewide, more than 150,000 people are currently in the hospital with the coronavirus.

SEE ALSO: Thousands of Oakland teachers threaten to strike over COVID protocol