As Covid hospitalizations skyrocket, states struggle to find enough beds and staff


In El Paso, Texas, a convention center was turned into a Covid-19 field hospital and refrigerated trailers were trucked to store the dead as there was no more room in the morgues.

In Massachusetts, Michigan and several other states, hospitals are struggling to find enough beds for the influx of coronavirus patients and cancel elective surgeries so that doctors and nurses can focus on cases of Covid-19.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum speaks at Bismarck on March 20, 2020.Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune via AP file

In North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum has given healthcare workers who have tested positive – but have no symptoms – the green light to continue treating Covid-19 patients because of a shortage of nurses and doctors.

“Right now, our limiting factor isn’t beds, it’s staffing,” said John Pierce, president of Rapid City Hospital in neighboring South Dakota.

It was a snapshot of a national hospital system in crisis on Wednesday as healthcare facilities across the United States were stretched to the limit and the Covid Tracking Project reported that a record 61,964 people infected with the coronavirus were hospitalized on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, an additional 109,000 cases of the coronavirus had been reported nationwide – the eighth day in a row that the number of new infections has exceeded 100,000, according to the latest figures from NBC News.

“The trends are clearly going in the wrong direction and showing no signs of changing,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who warned they may have to reopen field hospitals to treat a possible patient overflow. that hospital intensive care units fill up. to the top.

The country’s top infectious disease experts have been sounding the alarm for weeks, and an NBC News analysis of current coronavirus trends showed the United States was on track to hit 20 million Covid-19 cases. here Christmas if the virus continues to infect people at the current rate. .

In other coronavirus news:

  • The highly anticipated Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine which could be deployed soon to fight the pandemic “is a new type of technology that has never been used in mass human vaccination before and experts warn that much remains unknown about its safety , how long he could work and who could benefit the most, ”NBC News reported Wednesday.
  • Pfizer chief executive officer Albert Bourla took advantage of a windfall on Monday, raising $ 5.6 million after his company’s shares jumped on promising news about the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, Reuters reported. The drugmaker said the sale of pre-planned shares of Bourla was part of a business plan drawn up in August.
  • Two other people who attended the White House election night tested positive: Brian Jack, the political director of the White House, and Trump ally Healy Baumgardner. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, campaign legal counsel Dave Bossie and several White House aides also tested positive after the party.
  • While the White House has openly embraced the concept of “herd immunity,” in which the coronavirus would be allowed to spread until a sufficient population becomes immune, the world’s leading public health experts have said that following a such a strategy would be catastrophic.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new restrictions on restaurants, bars and gyms as his state, which was the nation’s hotspot in March, struggled to contain new clusters of coronavirus . The governor also ordered that all “indoor gatherings in private residences” be limited to a maximum of 10 people.
  • More than 540 students at the University of Connecticut were placed in quarantine on Wednesday after a dozen students tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Texans were mourning Dr Juan Fitz, a “hero of emergency medicine” who died of Covid-19.

“Newly confirmed cases of the disease exceed 100,000 per day,” Eric Yager, an infectious disease expert at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, said in an email to NBC News. “As we experienced at the start of the pandemic, an increase in infections is followed by an increase in hospitalizations and then deaths. While clinicians have a better understanding of the disease and how to treat it, hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed. “

But local leaders say they have received little advice from the White House Coronavirus Task Force and that President Donald Trump’s sole focus in recent times has been to challenge the election results of last week, which showed him the loser to President-elect Joe Biden.

“We are at a very critical time in terms of this nation’s response to this virus and there is no consistent direction, direction or message coming from DC,” said Baker, a Republican.

Trump’s advice almost from the start has been a mixture of misinformation and optimistic predictions about the progress of the pandemic that have turned out to be wrong.

For months, Trump accused Democrats of trying to undermine his chances of re-election by exaggerating the dangers of a virus that on Wednesday infected 10.3 million and killed nearly 242,000 people in the United States – two figures from world leading.

“All you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Trump said shortly before the elections at a campaign rally in Gastonia, in North Carolina. “That’s all they put on, because they want to scare everyone.”

North Carolina reported 3,119 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, one of the highest daily numbers since the start of the pandemic.

Several other states set new records for coronavirus infections on Tuesday: Ohio (6508), Colorado (3890), Wyoming (1232) and Montana (1098), according to the latest data from NBC News. Missouri recorded 146 deaths on Tuesday, the highest number of deaths in a single day for that state.

The city of Pensacola, Florida, where Trump hosted a pre-election campaign rally in which few participants wore masks or tried to socially distance themselves, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday after a spike in hospitalizations for coronavirus, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Burgum is one of many Republican governors to have taken his bearings to fight the coronavirus from the White House, which had encouraged states to reopen after barely a month of lockdown in the spring, even though cases of the coronavirus were just starting to increase to the South Solar Belt.

The Midwestern and Plains states have been hit hardest by the pandemic in recent months.

North Dakota now has one of the worst per capita death and infection rates in the country, but Burgum has yet to impose a statewide mask warrant, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and infectious disease experts like Dr Anthony Fauci have done it. , for months, called wearing a mask the most effective way to curb the spread of the disease currently available.

But in changing the North Dakota state’s order to allow nurses who test positive but show no symptoms to continue treating Covid-19 patients, Burgum said he was following CDC guidelines that allowed it when One state faces a serious staff shortage, The Grand Forks Herald reported.


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