New infections have increased by more than 80% in the last two weeks to reach the highest levels since statistics are kept. The daily average is 160,000 new cases and spans all 50 states.
Hospitals in the United States are transforming cafeterias, waiting rooms, corridors, chapels and even parking lots into units for the care of people with coronavirus. Staff desperately call other medical centers looking for available beds. Fatigue and discouragement take hold of front-line workers.
Conditions in America’s hospitals deteriorate by the day as the coronavirus relentlessly sweeps the country and the death toll surpasses a quarter of a million.
“We are depressed, discouraged, and totally exhausted.”said Alison Johnson, director of critical care at Johnson Medical Center in Tennessee. Some days, when you drive to or from work in your car, you can’t stop crying.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States has doubled in the last month and beat the records every day. As of Tuesday there were nearly 77,000 people hospitalized with the virus.
The new contagions have increased explosively by more than 80% in the last two weeks until reaching the highest levels since statistics are kept. The daily average is 160,000 new cases and spans all 50 states. Deaths exceed 1,155 a day, the highest figure in recent months.
Before the uncontrolled wave, reluctant governors and mayors issue orders to wear face masks in public, limit the number of people in private and public gatherings before the traditional Thanksgiving Day, prohibit eating inside restaurants, close gyms and reduce hours and capacity of bars, shops and other places.
The New York City School System –the largest in the country, with more than 1 million students– suspended face-to-face classes on Wednesday as the infection rate rose, a cruel setback in a corner of the country that suffered painfully in the middle of the year but seemed to have pushed back the virus a few months ago.
Texas is sending medical staff in the thousands to overwhelmed hospitals as the number of sick people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state rapidly approaches 8,000 for the first time since a deadly wave in the summer.
In the city of El Paso, on the border with Mexico, morgues pay inmates 2 dollars an hour that help transport corpses. The city has been forced to send non-COVID-19 patients to hospitals in other parts of the state.
The state has sent additional medical personnel, about 5,400, to various parts of Texas, said Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health. Additionally, this does not include volunteers and members of the armed forces.
The Ballad Health hospital chain, located in the Appalachian Mountains and including the Tennessee hospital where Alison Johnson works, warns that, without a change of course, their hospitals would have to reject patients for lack of personnel.
In Reno, Nevada, the Renown Regional Medical Center has set up a parking facility for COVID patients. A video shows rows of beds separated by white movable panels on one level of the building. Each section is marked with a letter and the space of each bed with a number. There are currently 27 patients, but it will have capacity for more than 1,400, said Dr. Paul Sierzenski, chief medical officer of the critical care unit.