COVID Highs Push Hospitals Near the Brink

'We'll run into some difficult decisions to make'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 21, 2020 6:00 PM CDT
Hospitals Are Buckling Amid COVID Spikes
Medical Assistant Savannah Dela Vega removes her face mask in the staff room at the respiratory clinic that tests for coronvirus in Casper, Wyo., Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. Wyoming health officials reported the number of people hospitalized with the virus has increased to the highest since March.   (Cayla Nimmo/The Casper Star-Tribune via AP)

Hospitals across the US are starting to buckle from a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, with several states setting records for the number of people hospitalized and leaders scrambling to find extra beds and staff, the AP reports. New highs in cases have been reported in states big and small—from Idaho to Ohio—in recent days. The rise in cases and hospitalizations was alarming to medical experts. Around the world, disease trackers have seen a pattern: First, the number of cases rises, then hospitalizations, and finally there are increases in deaths. Seeing hospitals struggling is alarming because it may already be too late to stop a crippling surge. For more:

  • Surges in coronavirus cases have led hospitals in Rocky Mountain states to raise concerns as their intensive care bed space dwindles. Utah, Montana and Wyoming have all reported record highs this week for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Seven of 10 intensive care beds were filled in Utah hospitals and about six in 10 in Montana. In Nevada, where the economy relies heavily on the tourism industry, officials have stressed the need to maintain steady trends to bring back concerts and conventions that employ thousands on the Las Vegas Strip.
  • Ohio reported Tuesday its single-day record of 216 new cases related to COVID-19, News 5 Cleveland reports. That tops the state's previous daily high by 50, logged back in July—a time when many elective operations were shut down. "We're now we're back in a period of normal operations for our hospitals," said Dr. Andy Thomas with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. "So at some point, if the numbers just continue to rise and rise and rise, we'll run into some difficult decisions to make."
  • Fourteen states recorded COVID hospitalization records last week, including Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, CNN reports. It has reached a point where the head of the National Institutes of Health said his family has canceled Thanksgiving: "It is just not safe to take that kind of chance with people coming from different parts of the country of uncertain status," said Dr. Francis Collins. "The problem with this disease is it is so easy for people to be infected and not know it, and then spread it to the ones next to them without realizing it."
(More COVID-19 stories.)

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