In Los Angeles County, where a large number of cases have filled hospital intensive care units for days, at least five hospitals have already turned away patients due to oxygen supply problems, authorities say.
“The surges and the impact on our ICUs across the country are absolutely devastating … This is the nightmare scenario that we work so hard to prevent,” Dr. Peter Hotez, infectious disease specialist at the College, told CNN. Baylor of Medicine. on the hospital situation nationwide.
The United States reported 121,235 coronavirus patients in hospitals on Monday, the most ever reported on any given day during the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The proportion of the country’s ICU patients who have coronavirus has also skyrocketed, from 16% in September to 40% last week, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“When capacity is exhausted, physicians and bioethicists at these hospitals will have to decide which patients are recoverable, potentially recoverable, and which are not,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner.
December has already been the deadliest month of the pandemic in the country. And with vacation travel on the rise, health experts anticipate that the spread of the virus will increase and hospitalizations further.
In Los Angeles County, problems with oxygen supply to rooms led at least five hospitals to declare an “internal disaster” on Sunday, which included turning away an unspecified number of patients, said the director of hospital services. county health, Dr. Christina Ghaly.
Although there were several problems, the overall problem was not an absolute oxygen shortage, he said. One problem was that the outdated infrastructure that pumped oxygen into patient rooms could not keep up with the large number of patients who needed it.
She did not immediately identify hospitals with those problems. Meanwhile, other capacity issues are plaguing the county’s medical facilities.
A further spike in cases would put the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles in the position of needing to ration care, Executive Director Dr. Elaine Batchlor said Monday.
“If we continue to see an increase in the number of Covid patients, we may be forced to do something that, as healthcare professionals, we all really hate even having to think about,” Batchlor told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
Fauci: January could be worse than December
January’s coronavirus numbers could be worse than December because travel increased during the holidays, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
I wish many hadn’t traveled, but those who did can still decide to limit the potential spread, restricting who they congregate with, he said.
“For those who have already traveled, what they should do now is try not to congregate with large numbers of people in social settings like dinner parties,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto. on Tuesday.
“Once you reach a large number of people at an indoor dinner, there is poor ventilation and air circulation, that’s when you get into trouble,” he said. “That’s what worries us: that in addition to the (current) increase, we are going to have an increase superimposed on that increase, which could make January even worse than December.”
Air travel has been busy by pandemic standards. Sunday was the busiest day of the pandemic at U.S. airports, when the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.28 million people, the TSA said.
And more than 1 million people were screened in seven of the past 11 days, the most intense 11-day period since the pandemic began, the TSA said.
Although the average number of new infections and daily deaths from Covid-19 in the US has declined in recent days, it is not far from record highs.
An average of 180,904 new infections were reported daily during the past week through Monday. The maximum average so far, 219,324, was set just 11 days ago.
The US averaged 2,210 new Covid-19 deaths daily for the past week through Monday, just six days after hitting the average high of 2,715 per day.
With hospitalizations now at a record high, deaths could rise again, as experts say increases in deaths generally follow increases in hospitalizations.
If the cases themselves rise with vacation travel, hospitalizations and deaths could rise further, experts say.