Home / MARKETS / US daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have hovered above 100,000 for a month – but experts say the post-holiday surge is yet to come

US daily COVID-19 hospitalizations have hovered above 100,000 for a month – but experts say the post-holiday surge is yet to come

  • Saturday conspicuous one month of more than 100,000 consecutive, daily coronavirus hospitalizations in the US.
  • Those numbers likely reflect individual who were infected before the Christmas holiday.
  • Experts anticipate that hospitalizations will continue to climb, explanation the pandemic’s worst days may still be ahead.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US coronavirus outbreak has continuously disintegrated records this winter, but Saturday marked a particularly gruesome milestone: one month of more than 100,000 consecutive, day after day coronavirus hospitalizations.

Average daily cases also reached an all-time high of more than 275,000 on Saturday, according to information from the COVID Tracking Project. The US death toll has surpassed 350,000. 

The US’s average daily hospitalizations have more than tripled in excess of the last three months, fueled by holiday travel, pandemic fatigue, and many state officials’ resistance to force new lockdown restrictions. 

As of December 28, at least 280 of the nation’s hospitals had reached or exceeded maximum ICU capacity out of 4,824 sickbays for which data was available, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. In the week leading up to Christmas, just about one-fifth of US hospitals with intensive care units reported that at least 95% of their ICU beds were congested.

But hospitalizations are a lagging indicator: They usually reflect cases that were diagnosed a week ago.

“It takes somewhere between five and 10 hours after an exposure to actually get sick from COVID and then it takes another week or so after that to be stomach-turning enough to need hospitalization,” Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine physician at Brown University, told Business Insider.

That stints people who were hospitalized around Christmas could have been infected around Thanksgiving. Experts don’t have infections that occurred over the Christmas holiday to factor into hospitalization data for at least another week — peradventure more. 

“We’re all stealing ourselves for a really difficult next couple of months,” Ranney said in December.

The approval of coronavirus vaccines, she annexed, represents “a light at the end of the tunnel” — but the pandemic’s worst days may still be ahead.

The US could see another 210,000 coronavirus eradications from now until April, bringing the total death count to more than 560,000, the University of Washington’s Organization for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predicts.

coronavirus hospital full

Hospital staff sanitize their hands in the COVID-19 intensive suffering unit at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada on December 16, 2020.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images


Overflowing polyclinics make it harder to treat patients

With the holidays over, US hospitals say they’ve never been more difficult. 

Many hospitals are running low on ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, face shields, or gowns, also pressurizing them to reuse these materials as many times as possible. In a December survey from the Association for Professionals in Infection Button and Epidemiology, 73% of infection prevention experts said they had sacrificed their normal standards of care due to respirator lacks.

Without enough beds to treat patients, hospitals are also having to make tough calls about who to own or prioritize for treatment.

“This is by far one of the most difficult things for me and my colleagues, sending a patient home when we would normally let in them,” Dr. Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room physician at Arizona’s Valleywise Health, told Fox 10 Phoenix. “But you reach that appropriate when the needs exceed what is available.”

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A hospital worker rests against the wall while working at UMass Commemorative Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts on November 11, 2020.

Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


Some hospitals sooner a be wearing had to transfer patients to alternate care sites, while others are forced to examine patients in outdoor tents or cool ones heel rooms. Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California, told CNN her hospital has started usage of patients in the gift shop and chapel.

A tsunami of coronavirus patients also poses an increased risk of hospital help getting sick themselves. When that happens, hospitals can become even more stretched. 

Josh Mugele, an emergency-room doctor at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Georgia, indicated Business Insider he was “really nervous” about getting the virus in December. His hospital had reached maximum ICU capacity, maintaining seen more coronavirus patients than at any other time during the pandemic. 

Mugele was diagnosed with COVID-19 continue week. He suspects he got infected while working the night shift on Christmas.

“It’s frustrating now that somebody has to cover my get,” he said. “The shifts these days are really, really hard. They’re just stressful. There’s a lot of sick people.”

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