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article imageU.S. hospitalizations for the coronavirus reach record numbers

By Karen Graham     Dec 29, 2020 in Health
December holds the unwanted distinction of being the deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., and now we can add that December has seen a record number of hospitalizations for the virus, as well as a sharp increase in the use of ICU beds.
Hospitals across the country have felt the strain from the surge in COVID-19 cases the past couple of months, with the situation made worse because millions of Americans refused to heed warnings of public health officials to not travel for the holidays.
Many hospitals are actually treating some patients in hallways, gift shops, parking lots, ambulances, and mobile field units. Additionally, many healthcare facilities are struggling with staff shortages and "burnout" due to the level of care needed for patients with the virus.
Any further spike in coronavirus cases would put Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles in the position of needing to ration care, CEO 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 health professionals, we all really just loathe having to even think about," Dr. Batchlor told CNN's Brooke Baldwin
At Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, infectious disease specialist Dr. Kimberly Shriner told CNN: "We have a limited number of ventilators, we have a limited number of ICU beds." She added that a team, including a bioethicist, a community member, a physician, a nurse, and an administrative leader will decide how to divide those resources if it comes to that point.
"If you don't have respirators, you don't have nurses to care for patients, you don't have ICU beds, we will have to have these terrible discussions with families, which is why people need to stay home, and when they go out, they need to wear a mask," Dr. Reiner said.
The coronavirus pandemic is surging worldwide  even as vaccines are rolled out in many countries
The coronavirus pandemic is surging worldwide, even as vaccines are rolled out in many countries
Jung Yeon-je, AFP
January could be even worse than December
The Washington Post is reporting that in an interview on CNN today, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, urged people who have recently traveled to avoid gathering with people outside their households.
"For those who have already done the travel, the thing to do now is to try to not congregate with large numbers of people in social settings like dinners," DR. Fauci said.
"Once you get to large numbers of people at a dinner inside, poor air ventilation and circulation, that's when you get in trouble," he said. "That's what we're concerned about -- that in addition to the (the current) surge, we're going to have an increase superimposed upon that surge, which could make January even worse than December."
According to Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 data, as of Tuesday, the U.S. has reported 19,340,548 confirmed coronavirus cases and 335,820 deaths.
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