US healthcare on brink as COVID-19 hospitalizations hit all-time high
November 11, 2020
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by admin

Medical workers in protective gear apply a breathing apparatus to a recline patient.
Enlarge / Medical staff members treat a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, 2020, in Houston, Texas.

More people in the United States are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before in the pandemic, and hospitals in numerous states are on the brink of being overwhelmed.

Around 62,000 people in the US are now in the hospital with the pandemic coronavirus, topping all previous peaks in hospitalizations, which were around 60,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The surge is intense and diffuse. Hospitalizations are up 40 percent over the last two weeks alone, and they’re rising in every region of the country.

Seventeen states are now at record-breaking numbers of hospitalizations, with states in the Midwest hit the hardest. In North Dakota, hospitals are at 100 percent capacity. On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced that the state has amended a health order to now allow nurses who are infected with the coronavirus to keep working in hospitals as long as they show no symptoms. The move is aimed at alleviating strain on hospital staff who are being overwhelmed by the influx of patients. The governor added that the state is also looking to hire emergency medical technicians and paramedics to run COVID-19 testing operations.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers gave an unusual prime-time speech Tuesday to urge people in his state to stay in their homes, work from home if possible, and wear masks if they must go out. Wisconsin has seen a sharp, record-breaking rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent weeks, with no end in sight. More than 2,000 people in the state are currently hospitalized and 72 died just on Tuesday. Wisconsin also logged over 7,400 new cases yesterday, bringing the Badger State’s total to nearly 300,000.

America’s dark winter

Hospitals in Wisconsin, as well as Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Montana, are at or near capacity. On Friday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency over hospital overcrowding. “The situation is dire and unsustainable,” the state wrote in its emergency declaration announcement. Hospitals are also strained in Texas. In El Paso, the situation is so serious that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday requested to use a military medical center as local hospitals filled up with COVID-19 patients. Authorities in the county also requested four more mobile morgues in addition to the six already in use, CNN reported Tuesday.

The outlook for hospitalizations looks grim as new cases continue on a sharp ascent throughout the country. Tuesday saw yet another record-breaking day of case counts, with 131,000 new positive cases. With mounting cases come mounting hospitalizations and, within weeks, mounting deaths. Many places are already seeing upticks while others are bracing for them.

Researchers and medical experts have honed COVID-19 treatments and care strategies throughout the pandemic, dragging death rates of hospitalized patients down considerably. However, those gains can be quickly washed out if hospitals and healthcare providers are flooded with patients, the COVID Tracking Project rightly notes. Overwhelmed healthcare facilities will be unable to provide optimal care for all patients as their staffing, resources, and even physical space hit their limits.

Experts have for weeks been sounding the alarm on the country’s dire situation. President-elect Joe Biden has echoed the alarm, warning of a “very dark winter” and calling for action. The president-elect and his transition team have spared no time in laying out plans and ground work to addressing the crisis as soon as he takes office in January.

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