As the United States continues to see near-record increases in its daily number of new coronavirus cases, the number of U.S. patients hospitalized for Covid-19 also is nearing a record high—and hospitals in many states are facing capacity and staff shortages.
US new coronavirus cases surpass 3.5M, deaths top 137K
On Wednesday, the United States reported more than 67,300 new coronavirus cases, which is the second-highest number of new cases that the country's reported in a single day. As of Thursday morning, U.S. officials had reported 3,512,700 total cases of the new coronavirus since the country's epidemic first began—up from 3,445,500 cases reported as of Wednesday morning.
Data from the New York Times shows that Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Washington, D.C.; and 40 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Alabama and Idaho on Wednesday each reported record-high increases in their numbers of new coronavirus cases, the Times reports. In California, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county, which is the largest in the country, has entered "an alarming and dangerous phase," with coronavirus infection rates continuing to climb. Ferrer said additional restrictions to slow the virus' transmission, including implementing another stay-at-home order and shuttering more businesses in the county, are "on the table."
Meanwhile, the Times' data shows that the average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past two weeks remained mostly stable in eight states: Arizona, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
Delaware and Maine saw their average daily numbers of newly confirmed cases decrease over the past 14 days, according to the Times' data.
While growth in America's national coronavirus-related death rate had declined in June, recent data suggests that rate is accelerating once again.
According to the Times' data, Puerto Rico and 22 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported deaths linked to the coronavirus rise over the past 14 days: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
Overall, officials as of Thursday morning had reported a total of 137,319 U.S. deaths linked to the new coronavirus—up from 136,356 deaths reported as of Wednesday morning.
As Covid-19 hospitalizations near record-high, hospitals report capacity, staff shortages
As America's coronavirus epidemic continues to resurge, the number of patients hospitalized for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, throughout the country is nearing a record high, data from The Atlantic's Covid Tracking Project shows.
Some states already are reporting their own record-high numbers of hospitalized Covid-19 patients. In Texas, for instance, there are now more than 10,000 patients hospitalized for Covid-19, which is drastically higher than the state's previous peak of 1,800 Covid-19 hospitalizations in early May.
As a result of the increases, hospitals in many states are reporting running low on available beds, supplies, personal protective equipment, and staff. For example, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) on Wednesday reported that 90% of the adult ICU beds in the state were occupied.
According to Vox, some providers have said they're concerned that the strain on hospital resources may affect patients' access to care.
"There are too many Covid patients, full stop," Roberta Schwartz, EVP at Texas-based Houston Methodist, told Vox. "We ran full before, we're running full-plus now."
At El Centro Regional Medical Center in Imperial County, California, 60% of the medical center's patients are infected with the new coronavirus, Adolphe Edward, the medical center's CEO, said. He noted that the medical center doesn't have enough ventilators to treat all of its Covid-19 patients and is now having to send patients to other hospitals for treatment.
According to Edwards, the hospital under normal circumstances sends one or two patients per day to another hospital, but lately, the hospital transfers on average between six to eight patients. "If you had told me at the beginning we'd be transferring that many patients, I would have told you: I don't know what you're drinking," Edward said.
Hospitals say HHS' new Covid-19 reporting requirements may increase burdens
In addition, hospital groups on Wednesday raised concerns that new requirements from HHS regarding how hospitals must report certain Covid-19 data could create additional burdens on hospitals already stretched thin.
HHS in guidance issued Friday directed hospitals to send information regarding patients with Covid-19 to a central HHS database managed by the health data firm TeleTracking instead of to a CDC-managed database, as they'd been doing for the past few months. The instructions mean CDC will no longer oversee the daily collection of data from hospitals on their numbers of Covid-19 patients, available beds, ventilators, and other crucial information that the federal government uses to allocate resources to providers.
Carrie Kroll—VP of advocacy, quality, and public health for the Texas Hospital Association—said the new requirement can feel like "quite an undertaking," particularly when hospitals "are trying to be saving lives" of Covid-19 patients.
Similarly, John Brady, VP and CFO for the Connecticut Hospital Association, said the new changes are "burdensome on hospitals, certainly those who are experiencing a crush of very ill patients from Covid" (New York Times, 7/16 ; Weber, Associated Press, 7/16; Barclay/Scott, Vox, 7/15; Evans et al., Wall Street Journal, 7/15; Adams, Becker's Hospital Review, 7/15; Goldstein/Sun, Washington Post, 7/15; Bettelheim, Politico, 7/15; New York Times, 7/16 ).