The latest surge that is driving up the number of Covid cases across the country is also putting more people in hospitals, even in highly vaccinated states.
Hospitalizations around the nation have risen 39 percent from Nov. 1, to Dec. 19, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Unlike previous waves where vaccination rates were a good indicator of whether a state was experiencing an outbreak, this surge is different. Hospitals are filling up in states where people have shunned vaccinations, and also in high vaccination states like Delaware, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
The surge has hit the Northeast particularly hard in recent weeks. Hospitalizations have doubled or nearly doubled in Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York since Nov. 1.
But while hospitalizations are rising across the country, the states with the highest hospitalization figures — Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all have lower vaccination rates.
The winter Covid surge comes as the new, highly contagious omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the country. The number of people with Covid has risen 30 percent in the last two weeks, according to NBC News' tally, causing the NBA and the NHL to postpone games, Broadway shows to cancel performances and companies like Apple to reconsider return-to-office plans.
It’s still too early to tell whether the omicron variant causes more severe illness than previous Covid variants. Early data suggests it may cause less severe symptoms in vaccinated people, and data from the vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna suggests that vaccine boosters provide more protection than an initial one- or two-dose series.
CORRECTION (Dec. 21, 6:00 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the nationwide rise in hospitalizations. Average hospitalizations have risen 39 percent between Nov. 1 and Dec. 19, not 11 percent.