(CNN) — More Americans who do not even have coronavirus are suffering due to the increase in ICU hospitalizations for covid-19.
Recently published data from US Department of Health and Human Services. (HHS) show that at least 200 hospitals were at full capacity last week. And in a third of all hospitals, more than 90% of all ICU beds were occupied. Coronavirus patients occupied 46% of all staffed ICU beds, up from 37% in the first week of November.
Hospitalizations in the U.S. hit a record 107,248 on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Doctors say the numbers will continue to worsen, as the expected spike after Thanksgiving has caused widespread infections and unprecedented hospitalizations and deaths.
“Things are really bad,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University.
‘What we have seen in recent weeks is a sharp increase in infections. And what we know, since the beginning of this pandemic is that infections are followed by hospitalizations, which are then followed by death.
«The impact is not only on people with covid. It’s an impact on anyone who needs hospital care, ”said Jha. “Hospitals are running out of beds for everyone. So it is a much broader public health problem than a simple covid problem.
A day of extreme hope that ended in despair due to covid-19
This Thursday should have been a day of great hope, as a committee of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that a vaccine against covid-19 will be authorized for emergency use.
But it is also a day of devastating losses. The single-day death toll from COVID-19 reached a record 3,124 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
These are more deaths than those suffered in the September 11 attacks. And experts say the death toll will worsen.
And more than 200,000 new infections were reported on Thursday, inevitably leading to even more hospitalizations and deaths.
“We are in an unprecedented health crisis in this country,” said former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The disease is everywhere: Midwest, West Coast, East Coast, North, South. Health workers are exhausted. The hospitals are completely full.
The model still forecasts 500,000 deaths for April
More than 500,000 people in the United States will have died from covid-19 by April, a model of the forecasts of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The death toll could reach 502,000 by April 1, but it will be lower if more people wear masks, the researchers said. Dr. Chris Murray told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that his group found that 72% of Americans wear masks and that 56,000 fewer people would die if mask use rises to 95%.
In the worst case scenario, based on states easing health orders, 598,000 deaths are forecast for April.
The current model predicts 37,000 fewer deaths than the old one because the number of hospitalizations and cases is stabilizing in the Midwest. Americans in general have reduced their travel and some states have imposed new health measures, affecting the model, the institute said in a press release.
Vaccines will help too. Between 25,200 lives and 44,500 would be saved by April, the researchers said, depending on the speed of the vaccine delivery.
A composite forecast from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects a total of 332,000 to 362,000 deaths from covid-19 by January 2. That forecast combines models from 40 independent research groups.
The “light at the end” of a very long tunnel
That means the first Americans outside of clinical trials could start getting vaccinated in the next few weeks.
FDA will take the next step toward authorization by deciding whether to accept the recommendation. Officials have indicated that the agency will issue the emergency use authorization.
Officials will meet again later this month to evaluate the Moderna vaccine, which also has been shown to be highly effective in a clinical trial.
The covid-19 vaccines are a “really significant light at the end of the tunnel,” Sebelius said.
But the United States probably won’t see any significant impacts from vaccines until well into 2021, and that’s only if enough people choose to get vaccinated, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Let’s say we get 75%, 80% of the population vaccinated. I think if we do it efficiently enough during the second quarter of 2021, by the time we get to the end of the summer … we may have enough herd immunity protecting our society that as we get to the end of 2021, we could get closer to … true degree of normalcy that is close to where we were before, ”Fauci said at a virtual event at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health on Wednesday.
But with many more infections and deaths to be expected before widespread vaccination, personal responsibility is key to getting through this winter.
That means wearing face masks and collect yourself in your covid-19 social bubbles.
“We have to take what we’ve learned in the last eight months and really put it into practice so that we don’t continue to have this unthinkable number of deaths and illnesses,” said Sebelius.
Some Idaho morgues are full
The Idaho governor said that several counties will need to use mobile morgues.
“The morgues are full and they are starting to ask for refrigerated trailers to store bodies,” Governor Brad Little said. In some parts of the state, “emergency calls for COVID-19 victims increased 300%.”
The governor warned that the increase in cases is “consuming resources and personnel of the ICU, has brought the capacity almost to the maximum.”
Covid-19 was the leading cause of death in Idaho in November. Health officials reported 2,298 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest number announced in a day.
“We are fast approaching a point where we may simply not have enough beds, critical care physicians, nurses and technicians to handle the number of COVID-19 patients in need of care,” Little said.
New closures and extended skin commands
State and local leaders on both sides are doubling down on security mandates as the coronavirus runs rampant across the country.
Baltimore Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott announced the temporary closure of all indoor restaurants and recreational venues, such as bowling alleys, pool halls and hookah bars.
“The City of Baltimore has not had to implement such severe restrictions since the early days of the pandemic and the implementation of the stay-at-home order,” tweeted the city’s Health Department.
“Unfortunately, with the volume of new cases we are seeing and the implications it has for hospital utilization, during a period of widespread community transmission, activities such as eating, drinking and smoking around others should not continue.”
In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said state officials extended the curfew until January 2.
“We believe that the curfew, along with the application of the use of masks in retail stores, which also started around the same time, had an impact,” said DeWine.
“We cannot afford, on the eve of safe and effective vaccination, to further overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare providers with a festive tsunami,” he added.
In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a new executive order that adds stricter limitations on indoor and outdoor gatherings and moves more counties to the state’s mask mandate list, meaning 61 of the state’s 82 counties they are under a command of masks.
Indiana Republican Governor Eric Holcomb ordered hospitals to postpone or reschedule non-emergency procedures performed in an inpatient hospital setting from December 16 to January 3 to preserve the hospital’s capacity.
Holcomb also announced new limits on social gatherings beginning this weekend, based on the color zone (determined by weekly cases per 100,000 and seven-day positivity rate) in counties.
– CNN’s Steve Almasy, Haley Brink, Konstantin Toropin, Amanda Watts, Ben Tinker, Jamiel Lynch, Shelby Lin Edrman, Ganesh Setty, Melissa Alonso, and Kay Jones contributed to this report.
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