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COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States reached a fresh high of 132,646, according to a Reuters tally on Monday, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year, amid a surge of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Hospitalizations have increased steadily since late-December, doubling in the last three weeks, as Omicron quickly overtook Delta as the dominant version of the virus in the United States.

First Omicron case in US fuels global alarm over virus variant

Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin have reported record levels of hospitalized COVID-19 patients recently, according to the Reuters analysis.

While potentially less severe, health officials have warned that the sheer number of infections caused by the Omicron variant could strain the hospitals' systems, some of which have already suspended elective procedures as they struggle to handle the surge of patients amid staff shortages.

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