Hospitals are being strained as they near or push past capacity in states where cases of the novel coronavirus are surging.
Doctors and nurses across the South and West, including Arizona, Mississippi and Texas, say they’re running out of space and equipment as new patients are admitted.
Rooms have double the normal amount of beds, elective surgeries have been put on hold and hospital administrators are asking healthcare workers from other states to come help.
And, in the most dire cases, medical care professionals have to determine which patients get put on a ventilator and which don’t.
Hospitals in several states where coronavirus cases are surging such as Arizona, Mississippi and Texas are pushing capacity. Pictured: Healthcare workers move a patient in the COVID-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 2
Texas Medical Center hospitals announced that their ICU capacity surpassed 100%, requiring new and converted beds to be opened. Pictured: Healthcare workers move a patient into a different unit from the COVID-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center, July 2
If Arizona hospitals push past capacity, patients will be given a score to determine who gets a ventilator. Pictured: Medical transports and ambulances are parked outside the emergency-room entrance at Banner Desert Medical Center, in Mesa, Arizona, June 16
On Thursday, more than 55,000 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed in the US, the highest single-day increase in cases.
Deaths, which had been on the downward, rose with more than 700 fatalities recorded on Thursday.
The Washington Post reports that number is a 25 percent increase compared to the most recent seven-day rolling average.
Admiral Dr Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health for the US Department of Health and Human Services, said the jump in cases is due to new infections, not from a rise in testing.
‘There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover – but we do believe this is a real increase in cases,’ he told the House Select Committee on Coronavirus on Thursday.
‘We are not flattening the curve right now. The curve is still going up.’
In Arizona, one of the nation’s new hotspots, hospitalizations and ICU capacity reached record-highs.
The Arizona’s Department of Health Services revealed that 3,031 people were hospitalized and that ICU capacity reached 91 percent.
According to department data, 741 of those 1,520 patients are being treated for coronavirus.
Gov Doug Ducey, who had been reluctant to go back into lockdown, earlier this week ordered several businesses included bars, gums and movie theaters to close for 30 days.
Water parks and tubing also closed and events in the state weren’t allowed to have more than 50 people.
In Arizona, if hospitalizations go past capacity, patients will be given a score based on life expectancy and whether or not they have any underlying conditions to determine if they are put on a ventilator, reported The Post.
In Arizona, 3,031 people are hospitalized and ICU capacity reached 91% (pictured)
Hospitalizations are surging in Mississippi, where new cases topped more than 1,000 for the first time, and 70% of ICU beds are occupied
‘You look at what happened in Lombardy, Italy, what happened in New York – that’s what is about to happen here,’ Will Humble, former director of the state’s health department, told The Post.
‘People are going to die because our system is overwhelmed. It’s important for other states to learn from us.
‘This wasn’t bad luck. It was avoidable. Don’t let this happen to you. You look back at the past few months and we’re an example of what not to do.’
Arizona’s response to the coronavirus has been filled with stumbles.
Last week, Ducey said attendees of President Donald Trump’s Phoenix rally on June 23 wouldn’t have to wear masks. However, he recently encouraged residents to ‘mask up.’
The health department also ordered Arizona State University to stop providing COVID-19 models to the public after it showed a rise in cases back in May.
‘It was clear to anyone with any observational skills that this was coming,’ Humble told The Post.
‘You think back to Memorial Day, when bars and nightclubs were filled at capacity with zero mitigation. Clearly, the voluntary, honor system approach to mitigation was not working.’
On Wednesday, Texas Medical Center hospitals announced that their ICU capacity surpassed 100 percent.
Staff began covering and opening new intensive care and regular floor beds to accommodate COVID-19 patients, reported the Houston Chronicle.
‘It’s actually possible that we could become the next New York City,’ Roberta Schwartz, president of Houston Methodist Hospital, told the newspaper.
‘I can’t believe we’re now staring down the barrel of that gun.’
Additionally, in Mississippi, some intensive care units are either already full or about to become full.
For example, University of Mississippi Medical Center’s ICU has been at capacity since February, reported the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
On Thursday, the state State Department of Health recored 1,092 cases, a record surpassing the previous record of 611 set just two days beforehand.
Data from the Center for Disease Control and Preventions shows that about 70 percent of ICU beds in Mississippi are occupied – both with COVID and non-COVID patients.
While the number of ICU beds has not dramatically jumped, health officials are preparing for the worst.
‘There’s a sequence from hospitalization and then ICU,’ State Health Officer Dr Thomas Dobbs said at a news conference on Thursday.
‘I’m absolutely terrified we’re going to overwhelm the health care system and the hospitals and ICU, not in the fall, which is something I was worried about previously, but now I’m worried about next week or two weeks from now.’