Path Forward: How to Lessen the Impact of Omicron on Healthcare Workers

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark discusses the impact of the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospitals and healthcare workers.


Air Date: January 26, 2022

Moderator: Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Executive Director for Pandemic Prevention and Health Systems, Skoll Foundation, Jennifer Schmitz, MSN, President, Emergency Nurses Association, Dr. Craig Spencer, Assistant Professor, Columbia University Medical Center, Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics

In this week’s Path Forward event, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark discussed the impact of the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospitals and healthcare workers.

The Path Forward, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event series, helps business and community leaders find the answers they need to execute a responsible reopening strategy for a post-pandemic world.

What Happened?

Today, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 accounts for over 99% of cases in the U.S. according to the CDC. This latest surge in the pandemic is driving increased hospitalizations in emergency rooms across the country, impacting the doctors and nurses who staff them around the clock.

During the hosted discussion, doctors, nurses, and healthcare experts from across the country shared their thoughts about the pandemic’s impact on frontline workers, the burnout many of them are feeling, and how the rest of us can help ease the impact on emergency rooms.

What Experts Are Saying

“Help your local healthcare workers and nurses: Get vaccinated, get your booster shot, wear your mask, and let’s get to the other side of this.” – Suzanne Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“[Pandemic] waves end and we’re already seeing this one start to peak and go down in some areas of the country. But remember, that a wave is not felt equally in every part of the country or even every state and county. In many areas, hospitals and healthcare workers are still exceedingly strained.” – Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Executive Director for Pandemic Prevention and Health Systems, Skoll Foundation.

“I think we can use what we’ve learned and go back to living. … As long as we learn to accept the fact that there are some things that are still going to be a risk, but it’s a manageable risk. As long as we’re still prepared to switch back up our protections if we need to.” – Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

“For ER nurses, in particular, the burnout, the fatigue, and the ongoing stress are impacting their work environment, their interest in staying in this role. They’re tired. This is a really hard, long path they’ve had to endure.” – Jennifer Schmitz, MSN, President of the Emergency Nurses Association.

“We’ve had a lot of people just give up and quit. Estimates are between 10-20% of healthcare workers have left the profession and may never come back.” – Dr. Craig Spencer, Assistant Professor, Columbia University Medical Center.

“To help healthcare workers, the best thing to do is to get vaccinated. So, if you do get COVID the likelihood that you will be hospitalized—or have to see me—is incredibly low. If you’re vaccinated, have your booster, and are doing normal things, recognize that for you the individual risk is incredibly low, but all the while thinking about the fact that we respond to pandemics as collectives. We all need to do our part to slow the spread in our communities.” – Dr. Craig Spencer.

“The most likely scenario is that the pandemic will recede. In all likelihood, we’ll get future waves of the virus, but the damage that that wave does will be less serious than preceding waves. … The pandemic will recede, but it will not go away.” – Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics.

“Remote work is a game-changer…There will be some coming back from remote work as businesses reopen and ask workers to come back, but there’s no going back. That has enormous implications for regional economies, real estate, and housing markets.” – Mark Zandi.

What You Can Do

Please consider joining the Rally for Recovery Commitment, a U.S. Chamber-led program encouraging every company and organization to take three basic, but important, steps to get the country back to health and American workers back to work.

And if you’re looking to get vaccinated or a booster shot, visit Vaccines.gov to find a vaccination site near you!

Up Next

Please join future Path Forward events to learn how to better protect your workers, customers, coworkers, and friends from the spread of coronavirus.

Additional Resources