COVID hospitalizations surpass 125,000 for the third day in a row

COVID hospitalizations surpass 125,000 for the third day in a row

January 2, 2021

Sobering start to 2021: US records 2,051 new COVID deaths and hospitalizations hit more than 100,000 for the 31st day in a row – as health officials warn post-Christmas surge will get worse and California ICU beds only open up when a patient dies

  • At least 125,057 patients are currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the US as of late Friday, exceeding 125,000 for the third consecutive day
  • Another 160,606 new infections were confirmed for January 1, bringing the nationwide count to 20,128,693
  • The number of daily deaths, meanwhile, fell to 2,051 – down 1,368 from Thursday  
  • Alarming new figures come after US reached another sober milestone, surpassing 20million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic  
  • California, the most populous state with 40 million residents, has become a leading US flashpoint of the pandemic as hospitals are being pushed to their limits 
  • The crisis has become especially acute in Los Angeles County where one patient is dying every 10 minutes from the respiratory virus, according to health officials

The US marked a sobering start to the new year on Friday as COVID-19 hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the 31st day in a row, with more than 2,000 new deaths, while California’s healthcare system continues to grapple with a shortage of hospital beds. 

At least 125,057 patients are currently hospitalized with coronavirus across the country as of late Friday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, exceeding 125,000 for the third consecutive day. 

It comes after the total number of US virus cases earlier reached another sober milestone, surpassing 20million confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic. US coronavirus cases now make up nearly a quarter of the global total. 

Another 160,606 new infections were confirmed for January 1, bringing the nationwide count to 20,128,693, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of daily deaths, meanwhile, fell to 2,051 – down 1,368 from Thursday.

To date, the US has lost 347,788 lives from COVID-19, amounting to approximately one in every 950 Americans, and ranks 16th in national per capita coronavirus deaths in the world. 

Earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the weeks to come could get worse as it projected a total of 383,000 to 424,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by the week ending on January 23, 2021.

On the high end of the model, that could mean that more than 82,000 people could die within the next month.

California, the most populous state with 40 million residents, has become a leading US flashpoint of the pandemic. Hospitals have been forced to set up makeshift ICU wings outside or in emergency rooms due to a shortage of beds. Pictured: Doctors treat a patient in UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday

At least 125,057 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the country as of Friday, according to the COVID Tracking Project

Another 160,606 new infections were confirmed for January 1, bringing the nationwide count to 20,128,693, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University

The number of daily deaths, meanwhile, fell to 2,051 on Friday – down 1,368 from the previous day 

It comes as California, the most populous state with 40 million residents, has become a leading US flashpoint of the pandemic despite some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on social gatherings and business activities. 

The soaring COVID-19 case load has pushed hospitals in and around Los Angeles in particular to their limits, filling emergency rooms, intensive care units, ambulance bays and morgues beyond capacity, and creating staff shortages.

In Santa Clara, near San Jose, hospitals have run out of space in intensive care units and are now treating patients in the emergency room.

‘Often, the only time we can move someone is when a Covid patient dies,’ Dr Marco Randazzo said in a news conference.

Briefing reporters on Thursday, Cathy Chidester, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, called the situation a ‘hidden disaster,’ not plainly visible to the public.

Medical experts attribute the worsening pandemic in recent weeks to the arrival of colder weather and the failure of many Americans to abide by public health warnings and requirements to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel over the year-end holiday season.

The crisis faced by healthcare systems has become especially acute in Los Angeles County where one patient is dying every 10 minutes from the respiratory virus, according to county health officials.

County of Los Angeles paramedics are pictured loading a potential Covid-19 patient in the ambulance after administering him with oxygen on December 29 

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US has remained above 100,000 for the past 31 days, according to data

Heightened demands of caring for those struggling to breathe has also left many hospitals in the region short on oxygen, both in supplies and the ability of older facilities to maintain adequate pressure flow through ventilators, Chidester said.

She also described ambulances forced to wait several hours at a time to unload patients, causing delays throughout the county’s emergency response system.

To ease ER overcrowding, the county is denying ambulance transport to hospitals of emergency patients who are already under hospice care with do-not-resuscitate directives, according to Adam Blackstone, a spokesman for the Hospital Association of Southern California.

For months, California did many of the right things to avoid a catastrophic surge from the pandemic. But by the time Governor Gavin Newsom said on December 15 that 5,000 body bags were being distributed, it was clear that the nation’s most populous state had entered a new phase of the COVID-19 crisis.

Now infections have been racing out of control for weeks, and California remains at or near the top of the list of states with the most new cases per capita. 

It has routinely set new marks for infections and deaths, and began the new year reporting a record 585 deaths in a single day.

Experts say a variety of factors combined to wipe out the past efforts, which for much of the year held the virus to manageable levels. 

Cramped housing, travel and Thanksgiving gatherings contributed to the spread, along with the public’s fatigue amid regulations that closed many schools and businesses and encouraged – or required – an isolated lifestyle.

HOUSTON, TEXAS: A patient is seen lying on a bed in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on January 1

Another factor could be a more contagious variant of the virus detected in Southern California, although it’s not clear yet how widespread that may be. 

Even with vaccines becoming available, cases are almost certain to continue growing, and yet another surge is expected in the weeks after Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

The recent emergence of a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus in the United States could make a swift rollout of immunizations all the more critical. 

December was the deadliest month of the pandemic yet in the US, with coronavirus killing more than 77,000 Americans in the span of 31 days – outstripping the previous record fatalities from April by nearly a third. 

The US rang in 2021 with a grim new record: coronavirus hospitalizations hit an all-time high for the fourth day in a row on New Years Eve with nearly 125,400 people in inpatient treatment.  

Thursday’s daily death toll of 3,419 marked the 10th day this month that deaths have exceeded 3,000, with 346,408 recorded to date.   

NEW YORK: Healthcare workers wheel a coronavirus patient into a hospital

While the nation pinned its hope for finally bringing the pandemic to its knees on coronavirus vaccines, widespread issues with the rollout saw 2020 come to a close with only about 3.17 million people vaccinated, according to Bloomberg News. That is just 25 per cent of the 12.4million doses that have been delivered to states. 

Confusion over who can get the vaccine abounds across the country, with Americans told to call around to find out when they can get their first doses or facing miles-long lines to get the shots. 

Adding to anxieties over the current surge is the emergence of a mutant strain of COVID-19 that has now been confirmed in three states: Colorado, California and Florida. The strain was first detected in the United Kingdom and is thought to be 70 percent more transmissible than the original. 

Florida became the third state to confirm a case of the strain on Thursday evening after it was detected in a man his 20s who lives in Martin County and has no history of travel. 

California, which reported its first case of the strain on Wednesday, confirmed three more people have been infected with it in the San Diego area on Thursday night.  

Earlier this week, the first case was confirmed in Colorado and officials say they are also investigating a second suspected case in the state.  

The fact that the confirmed cases in Colorado and Florida both involved individuals with no recent travel history means that the variant must already be circulating on US soil. 

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has been sounding the alarm that it’s only a matter of time before other states detect the strain.   

As of Friday, West Virginia has still vaccinated the highest percentage of its population, followed by South Dakota and Maine. Kansas continues to lag the farthest behind in population vaccinated, with just 0.42% of all residents having received the jab

A table shows for each state, vaccine doses received and administered, and the percentage of shots used. Maine has now distributed the highest percentage of its available vaccine, with more than 50% of doses administered

‘We predicted it would be, when you have so much of it in the UK, which then spread to other countries in Europe and Canada, it was inevitable that it would be here,’ Fauci told Today on Thursday. 

‘You’ll be hearing reports from other states and more cases in the state that is already reported. Unfortunately, that’s just the reality of the way these viruses spread’. 

But he added: ‘The good news is that it does not appear to be more virulent, namely, making people more sick and leading to more death.’   

There are fears the number of infections – followed by hospitalizations and deaths – will only continue to rise in the coming weeks as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) revealed that it screened 1,163,696 people at airport checkpoints on Wednesday, December 30.

It marked the fifth consecutive day that the number of passengers screened exceeded one million and the ninth day this month that the threshold was passed. 

Offering a bit of hope, Operation Warp Speed chief Dr Moncef Slaoui on Wednesday announced that a one-shot coronavirus vaccine could be in use by February if Johnson & Johnson’s jab is approved.

Slaoui said Phase 3 trial recruitment for the vaccine has been completed and Johnson & Johnson is currently working with the Operation Warp Speed team to accelerate the availability of the vaccine doses.  

‘I think it can be quite a game-changer,’ Slaoui told reporters. ‘We’re hopeful that this vaccine, which is a one-shot vaccine will have equivalent efficacy to those of Moderna and Pfizer.’ 

Single-dose shots would mean faster rollout, and that people would likely be protected from coronavirus in a matter of weeks after the injection – rather than the about one-month period it takes for Moderna or Pfizer’s shots to reach their protective peak.  

In the weeks since Pfizer and Moderna’s jabs were approved several states have struggled to implement effective plans to get them out to patients. 

People wait in a line on New Year’s Eve to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at a site for seniors in an unoccupied store at the Oviedo Mall in Florida

The US has only administered about 16 percent of the 20 million doses it promised to give to Americans by the end of 2020, despite having distributed more than 12 million doses to states and territories. 

The bottleneck is caused by officials on state and federal level who have failed to create plans to get those shots into the arms of Americans according to a former FDA official who told that the failure is akin to dropping the baton on the last leg of the vaccine race. 

Adding to the disasters of the U.S. rollout of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, a pharmacist allegedly removed 500 doses of coronavirus vaccines from refrigeration, knowingly allowing them to spoil.  

Some of the doses were administered before the the hospital realized they’d gone off. The pharmacist was arrested on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, 42 people in Boone County, West Virginia, were mistakenly given Regeneron’s antibody cocktail – the same one that President Trump was treated with while he had COVID-19 – National Guard officials there said Thursday.  

While Americans continue to wait to be vaccinated, the UK on Wednesday authorized a vaccine by AstraZeneca that will almost certainly accelerate vaccine distribution there because it is cheaper, far easier to ship, handle and store than the Pfizer and Moderna alternatives.

Yet US regulators have no intention of approving the more efficient shot until April – two months after AstraZeneca’s US trial will have enough data to prove to the FDA that it works. Other trials have already shown that AstraZeneca’s $4 vaccine is safe and about 70 percent effective – well above the efficacy the FDA said it will require to approve a vaccine.  

But in the US, federal government has punted distribution plans almost entirely to states, where health departments are already stretched thin by surging COVID-19 cases. 

The result is a helter-skelter patchwork of last minute plans that look vastly different from state to state, bumping drug addicts and prisoners to the front of the line in some places, while in others, like Florida, elderly Americans are camping out in lawn chairs overnight in a bid to get vaccinated. Others say essential workers and the aged are being told to ‘call around’ to see if they can get a vaccine.  

Source: Read Full Article