A fast-rising rising tide of new coronavirus cases is flooding emergency rooms in parts of the US, with some patients moved into hallways and nurses working extra shifts to keep up with the surge. Patients struggling to breathe are being placed on ventilators in emergency wards since intensive care units are full, officials say, and the near-constant care they require is overtaxing workers who also are treating more typical ER cases like chest pains, infections, and fractures, the AP reports. In Texas, Dr. Alison Haddock of the Baylor College of Medicine said the current situation is worse than after Hurricane Harvey, which swamped Houston with floodwaters in 2017. The state reported a new daily record for virus deaths Friday and more than 10,000 confirmed cases for the fourth consecutive day.
"I've never seen anything like this COVID surge," said Haddock, who has worked in emergency rooms since 2007. "We're doing our best, but we're not an ICU." Patients are waiting "hours and hours" to get admitted, she said, and the least sick people are lying in beds in halls to make room for most seriously ill. Around Seattle, which was the nation's first hot spot for the virus that causes COVID-19, a new wave of patients is showing up at emergency departments, said nurse Mike Hastings. In Florida, another state that is seeing surging case numbers, hospitals say they are in desperate need of remdesivir—a medication that has been shown to shorten average hospitalization times—to treat the coronavirus patients who are filling up beds.