The total number of coronavirus deaths reported in a day set a new record Wednesday and hospitalizations also reached an all-time high, and doctors and nurses across the US are trying to find creative ways to handle the surging number of patients.
The numbers are grim. More than 100,200 patients were in US hospitals Wednesday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
There were more than 2,670 deaths reported Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Those totals have never been higher. The stress on frontline health care workers has never been greater.
One county official in Wisconsin told CNN, “Our hospital ICUs and emergency rooms remain stretched beyond any reasonable limit and our healthcare workers as well as our patients need our help.”
And the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that these next three months will be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
After they are authorized by the federal government, coronavirus vaccines should help blunt the pandemic, but experts think it won’t be until spring before a lot of Americans can get them.
Right now, the situation in places like Dane County, Wisconsin, are dire. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who told CNN resources are alarmingly stretched thin, said medical facilities are nearing capacity and this was the worst of the pandemic.
Dr. David Andes, who is a professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Disease within the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, said their hospitals are about 98% full.
“Our numbers are pretty out of control right now,” he said.
Andes said hospitals are trying to work through the crisis by finding new places to care for Covid-19 patients. Some are being treated in a children’s hospital. Some patients are being seen by doctors who are working outside their specialties. Many health care workers are signing up for extra shifts.
Other hospitals are facing similar demands. And while those facilities have been stretching capacity – by opening up new areas, creating more double occupancy rooms and bringing in staff from outside its own system – “we are out of levers to pull,” Dr. Jason Mitchell, chief medical officer of Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico, told CNN.
“When you run out of resources – whether that’s doctors or nurses or beds or ventilators – you cannot give (the best) care. … We are not there yet (but) we are very close as a state.”
Growing numbers will stress system, CDC chief says
The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals will stay high for months, the CDC’s top official said Wednesday.
“The reality is, December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that’s going to be put on our health care system,” said Dr. Robert Redfield.