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Nurse Elisa Gilbert checks on a patient in the acute care COVID-19 unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Jan. 21. The highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus is putting a significant strain on health systems nationally, resulting in staffing shortages and changes in capacity strategies. Karen Ducey/Getty Images hide caption

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Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Americans get sicker as omicron stalls everything from heart surgeries to cancer care

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Ambulances fill the loading area at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The hospital has tried to adjust to the surge of new infections by dedicating three floors for treatment of COVID-19 patients, and creating two COVID-only intensive care units for the most seriously ill. Still, the hospital has had to deny patient-transfer requests from smaller hospitals. Blake Farmer/WPLN hide caption

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Blake Farmer/WPLN

Medical staff prepare for an intubation procedure on a COVID-19 patient in a Houston intensive care unit. In some parts of the U.S., as hospitals get crowded, hospital leaders are worried they may need to implement crisis standards of care. Go Nakamura/Getty Images hide caption

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Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Rural communities across the country, places largely spared during the early days of the pandemic, are now seeing spikes in infections and hospitalizations. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

COVID-19 Surges In Rural Communities, Overwhelming Some Local Hospitals

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Patients can get COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests at a converted vehicle inspection station in San Antonio, as the state reports a record number of hospitalizations and single-day case increases. Eric Gay/AP hide caption

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Eric Gay/AP

Many counties in Georgia may not have enough hospital beds to treat a new wave of COVID-19 patients, according to internal federal government documents. Above, a barbershop in Atlanta on April 27. Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tents setup outside the main entrance to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. The hospital plans to triple the number of available ICU beds to care for patients amidst the spread of COVID-19. Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Image hide caption

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Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Image