COVID-19 hospitalizations across the United States have more than doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week as overwhelmed hospitals covert chapels, cafeterias and even parking garages into patient treatment areas to cope with the surge in patients.
Conditions inside the nation’s hospitals are deteriorating by the day as daily COVID-19 infections continue to skyrocket across the US and the nationwide death toll surpassed 250,000.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 surged to yet another record high of 79,000 yesterday and cases, which are on the rise in all 50 states, increased to 170,000.
Daily deaths surged to 1,800 yesterday and are now averaging 1,200 per day, the highest it has been in months.
The Midwest is currently the hardest-hit region based on the number of cases per capita. North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska are the top five worst-affected states. North Dakota has had the highest number of infections and deaths per capita in the world in the last week.
Long lines to get tested for COVID-19 have reappeared across the US as cases rise across the nation and people rush to get tested before reuniting with relatives for Thanksgiving.
Lines spanned multiple city blocks at testing sites across New York City this week, leaving people waiting three or more hours before they could even enter health clinics. In Los Angeles, thousands lined up outside Dodger Stadium for drive-thru testing.
COVID-19 patients are now being treated in a parking garage at the Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada as conditions inside the nation’s hospitals are deteriorating by the day
COVID-19 hospitalizations across the United States have more than doubled in the past month and set new records every day this week. The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 surged to yet another record high of 79,000 yesterday
It comes as the CDC on Thursday recommended Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving to mitigate the spread and advised against gathering with anyone who has not lived in the same household for at least 14 days.
The American Hospital Association and American Medical Association also issued a joint plea urging people to scale back Thanksgiving celebrations.
They cited spikes after Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day as evidence that Thanksgiving travel will result in a surge in cases.
‘The record-shattering surge underway is resulting in uncontrolled community spread and infection that has already overburdened health systems in some areas and will ultimately consume capacity of our health care system and may reduce the availability of care in many places in our country,’ they said.
Overwhelmed hospitals across the country are already converting chapels, cafeterias, waiting rooms, hallways, even a parking garage into patient treatment areas.
Staff members are desperately calling around to other medical centers in search of open beds and fatigue and frustration are setting in among front-line workers.
At least 25 states are currently reporting shortages in nurses and doctors, according to an analysis by STAT.
The situation is now so severe that patients are being transferred hundreds of miles to other states to be treated.
Daily deaths surged to 1,800 yesterday and are now averaging 1,200 per day, the highest it has been in months
Nationwide infections, which are on the rise in all 50 states, increased to 170,000 yesterday
The out-of-control surge is leading governors and mayors across the country to grudgingly issue mask mandates, limit the size of private and public gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving, ban indoor restaurant dining, close gyms or restrict the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.
New York City’s school system – the nation’s largest, with more than 1 million students – suspended in-person classes Wednesday amid a mounting infection rate, a painful setback in a corner of the country that suffered mightily in the spring but had seemingly beaten back the virus months ago.
Texas is rushing thousands of additional medical staff to overworked hospitals as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide accelerates toward 8,000 for the first time since a deadly summer outbreak.
In the worsening rural Panhandle, roughly half of the admitted patients in Lubbock’s two main hospitals had COVID-19, and a dozen people with the virus were waiting in the emergency room for beds to open up Tuesday night, said Dr. Ron Cook, the Lubbock County health authority.
‘We’re in trouble,’ Cook said.
In the Texas border city of El Paso, overwhelmed morgues have begun paying jail inmates $2 an hour to help transport the bodies of virus victims. The crush of patients is forcing the city to send its non-COVID-19 cases to hospitals elsewhere in the state.
More than 5,400 extra medical personnel have been deployed around Texas by the state alone, said Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. And that doesn’t include the help surging into Texas from the military and volunteer organizations.
‘There are only so many medical personnel to go around,’ said Dr. Mark McClellan, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration.
A hospital bed sits inside Renown Regional Medical Center’s parking garage, which has been transformed into an alternative care site for COVID-19 patients in Reno, Nevada
Personal protective equipment is stacked inside Renown Regional Medical Center’s parking garage after being transformed into an emergency COVID-19 care facility
Dozens of oxygen tanks can be seen lined up inside Renown Regional Medical Center’s parking garage
Ballad Health system, which is located in the Appalachian mountains and includes the Tennessee hospital where Alison Johnson works, has warned that it and its workers are stretched so thin that without a change in course, its hospitals might have to turn patients away. Ballad reported having just 16 available ICU beds Wednesday and about 250 team members in isolation or quarantine. It is trying to recruit hundreds more nurses.
In Idaho, doctors warned that hospitals have almost reached the point where they need to ration care, unable to treat everyone because there aren’t enough beds or staffers to go around.
‘Never in my career did I think we would even contemplate the idea of rationing care in the United States of America,’ said Dr. Jim Souza, chief medical officer for St. Luke’s Health System.
In Reno, Nevada, Renown Regional Medical Center began moving some coronavirus patients into its parking garage.
Video of the converted garage before it opened to patients showed rows and rows of beds separated by moveable white screens set up on one level of the stark, cavernous garage, each section designated by letters and each bed space marked by a number on the ground. The garage unit currently houses 27 patients but at peak capacity will have enough beds to accommodate more than 1,400, said Dr. Paul Sierzenski, Renown’s chief medical officer for acute care.
In Kansas, hospitals are converting spaces such as chapels and cafeterias for use by COVID-19 patients, said Cindy Samuelson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Hospital Association.
NYC: Lines spanned multiple city blocks at testing sites across New York City this week, leaving people waiting three or more hours before they could even enter health clinics
NYC: Dozens lined up outside a health clinic in New York City on Wednesday as COVID-19 testing increased
MIAMI: Vehicles line up as healthcare workers assist to check in citizens to be tested at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday
MIAMI: People stand in line to being tested at the COVID-19 mobile testing facility at Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach
Stormont Vail Health in Topeka, Kansas, devoted an entire hospital floor to COVID-19 patients as their numbers swelled, hitting 90 on Wednesday. The hospital also converted two surgery waiting rooms for use by non-infected patients, spokesman Matt Lara said.
Kansas health chief Dr. Lee Norman said a system that he likened to air traffic control for coronavirus patients is being put in place so nurses from rural hospitals can make a single call to find a larger hospital that can take their sickest patients.
In some cases, nurses and doctors in Kansas have been spending up to eight hours looking for a large hospital with an opening in cities as far away as Denver, Omaha or Kansas City.
‘The problem with this is, by the time you transfer these patients out they already are very ill at that point,’ said Kansas nurse practitioner Perry Desbien.
At the same time, patience is wearing thin over the lack of mask wearing that is contributing to the problem in rural areas.
‘It kind of feels like we’re just, you know, yelling into the abyss,’ said Cheyanne Seematter, a registered nurse at Stormont Vail. ‘We keep telling everybody to stay home, wear a mask, that it is actually bad here.’
Maryland health officials similarly set up a centralized clearinghouse with information on available ICU beds so that hospitals need only make a single phone call. State authorities also issued an emergency order prohibiting most hospital visitors until further notice.