America has taken another grim milestone from Covid-19, as data shows that one in 500 people living in the United States has died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly 664,000 people had died from the virus in the United States as of Tuesday evening, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, following a spate of cases and hospitalizations, especially in the southern states, caused by a combination of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates.
According to the New York Times, about one in four US hospitals has intensive care units that are at least 95 percent full.
Christina Salazar, a registered nurse at an Orlando, Florida hospital where patients are stranded in the emergency room, was recently diagnosed with compassion fatigue. The mental health problem arises when providers deal with the stress or trauma of their patients.
She is not alone at the AdventHealth Hospital in Altamonte Springs, which until recently did not have enough inpatient beds and has canceled elective surgeries due to an increase in Covid cases -19. She said many of her colleagues have recently become ill.
“We are urged to come to work and not call or take time off, but it is not always worth your sanity,” Salazar told The Guardian in a text message. She works in the progressive care unit and has been a nurse for only one year.
The pressure on the Florida hospital and its staff is not unique, especially in the southern states. In Alabama, only 40% of the state has been vaccinated and there are no beds available in intensive care units, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Staff at Cullman Regional Medical Center, 50 miles north of Birmingham, Alabama, called 43 hospitals in three states to find a cardiac intensive care bed for Ray DeMonia, a 73-year-old man who spent most of the time. of his life in the antique and auction business. , according to his obituary.
Staff eventually found a bed 200 miles from Cullman, in Meridian, Mississippi, and DeMonia was airlifted there. He died on September 1.
“In honor of Ray, please get the vaccine if you haven’t, in an effort to free up resources for non-Covid emergencies,” his family wrote in the obituary.
Dr Scott Harris, chief of the Alabama public health department, told The Associated Press last week that the state was facing a “real crisis” due to an overwhelming number of unvaccinated patients and requiring intensive care.
“Our biggest concerns are our low vaccination rates,” Harris told The New York Times. “This is why we are in the situation we find ourselves in. Virtually all of our deaths are from unvaccinated people. “
The problem is not confined to the south. Southern Ohio Medical Center, located about 80 miles south of Columbus, posted a statement on Facebook on September 11 alerting the community that its intensive care unit was at full capacity and that it may not have enough beds. for people with chest pain, who have had a stroke. or had a car accident.
“Like many hospitals, including others in our area, we are overloaded to the point of breaking down,” the statement read, which also included a call for people to get vaccinated, wear masks and socially distance oneself.
States with mask warrants and higher vaccination rates than Alabama are also feeling the ripple effects of states where people have not taken as many precautions against Covid.
For example, hospitals in Washington state, where more than 60% of the population is vaccinated, have received patients from neighboring Idaho, where the vaccination rate is only 40%. Even without Idaho patients, Washington hospitals were already delaying some procedures due to an increase in Covid cases, The New York Times reported.
“We certainly need our friends in the Idaho government to do more to protect the health of their citizens because we know their crisis is becoming our problem,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. “I am asking the people of Idaho to adopt some of the security measures – like masking requirements – like the ones we have in Washington, so that we can help our two states reduce this horrific pandemic. “
In Florida, the number of new cases of Covid fell for the second week in a row, the state’s health department reported on September 10.
This is good news for Salazar, who has seen patients suffer in his hospital. The Orlando Sentinel reported that a 41-year-old man who had chest pain after recent open heart surgery spent seven hours in a wheelchair outside in 90-degree heat to avoid a crowded waiting room filled with patients with symptoms of Covid-19. He could not get the pain relievers he said he needed.
“It’s stressful because I’m sitting here in pain,” Harris told The Sentinel. “If you are in pain, you will not be given any pain medication. [while waiting to be seen]. Doctors’ hands are tied, people are angry with doctors, but hospital law is… they are doing their best.
Salazar works to keep patients calm, which she says is especially important in people with Covid, who often have difficulty breathing.
“I think it all becomes a matter of patience with each other,” said Salazar, who has received the Pfizer vaccine and plans to receive a booster in October. “This is what we need more than ever.