As COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 90,000 for the first time, a record for the seventeenth day in a row, Dr. Andre Campbell, a trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, warns the U.S. could be facing an “apocalypse” next month.
“We could be facing an apocalypse by Christmas because of what is happening with respect to the growing number of hospitalizations — 90,000 is a lot but what if we have 150,000? Those of us who take care of patients are really concerned about it.”
The rampant spread of the novel coronavirus has pushed some hospital systems to their limits, with many more at risk of reaching capacity in a matter of weeks as the number of available ICU beds in some regions drop to dangerously low levels, Campbell warned. North Dakota has over 90% of the state’s ICU beds in use. Across Wisconsin, 88% of the state’s ICU beds are currently occupied.
‘COVID does not take a holiday’
Massachusetts, Arkansas and Pennsylvania all reported a record number of cases Thanksgiving Day as CDC officials urged people to stay home for the holiday. While a recent Axios-Ipsos poll found 61% of Americans changed their holiday plans because of the recent spike in cases, there were millions who did not adhere to the warnings. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it screened 1.07 million travelers at checkpoints nationwide Thanksgiving Eve, the highest number since March 16.
“We're very worried about the travel that's going on around Thanksgiving. Six million people traveled in the last six days and that means many more people will be exposed [to the virus.] We told folks to stay at home and not move around but people did the opposite….We're all quite worried the system will be overwhelmed with patients because the resources we have are finite but the numbers of patients we have could be infinite. COVID does not take a holiday.”
‘Things are on fire’
Forty-six states are now considered hotspots where stay-at-home orders are necessary, according to the Brown School of Public Health COVID-19 Risk Level Dashboard. To be designated as a hotspot, the positivity rate exceeds 25 cases per 100,000 people. States with the highest number of cases per 100,000 people are Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Wisconsin and South Dakota.
Thanksgiving Day marked the 24th day in a row that new COVID cases remained above 100,000, bringing the average 7-day case count to more than 163,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That’s up from a 7-day average of just over 69,000 a month ago.
“Right now things are on fire. The case rate in North Dakota is 150 per 100,000 people. In California, it’s 31 per 100,000 people and the case positivity rate is going up. These are things that we all worry about as we move forward,” said Campbell. “Help is on the way, but we have to hold out.”
“We have to hold on because hope is coming. A vaccine is coming,” said Campbell.
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