In the months since March, many Americans have habituated to the horrors of the pandemic. They process the election’s ramifications. They plan for the holidays. But health-care workers do not have the luxury of looking away: They’re facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two. In the U.S., states now report more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point this year—and 40 percent more than just two weeks ago.
Emergency rooms are starting to fill again with COVID-19 patients. Utah, where Nathan Hatton is a pulmonary specialist at the University of Utah Hospital, is currently reporting 2,500 confirmed cases a day, roughly four times its summer peak. Hatton says that his intensive-care unit is housing twice as many patients as it normally does. His shifts usually last 12 to 24 hours, but can stretch to 36. “There are times I’ll come in in the morning, see patients, work that night, work all the next day, and then go home,” he told me. I asked him how many such shifts he has had to do. “Too many,” he said.
Hospitals have put their pandemic plans into action, adding more beds and creating makeshift COVID-19 wards. But in the hardest-hit areas, there are simply not enough doctors, nurses, and other specialists to staff those beds. Some health-care workers told me that COVID-19 patients are the sickest people they’ve ever cared for: They require twice as much attention as a typical intensive-care-unit patient, for three times the normal length of stay. “It was doable over the summer, but now it’s just too much,” says Whitney Neville, a nurse based in Iowa. “Last Monday we had 25 patients waiting in the emergency department. They had been admitted but there was no one to take care of them.” I asked her how much slack the system has left. “There is none,” she said.
The entire state of Iowa is now out of staffed beds, Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of Iowa, told me. Worse is coming. Iowa is accumulating more than 3,600 confirmed cases every day; relative to its population, that’s more than twice the rate Arizona experienced during its summer peak, “when their system was near collapse,” Perencevich said. With only lax policies in place, those cases will continue to rise. Hospitalizations lag behind cases by about two weeks; by Thanksgiving, today’s soaring cases will be overwhelming hospitals that already cannot cope. “The wave hasn’t even crashed down on us yet,” Perencevich said. “It keeps rising and rising, and we’re all running on fear. The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question.”
The coronavirus pandemic is worsening by the day, and the Trump administration refuses to do anything about it. Yesterday, the defeated “president” emerged from his hidey hole for an appearance in the former Rose Garden. He proceeded to falsely claim credit for the Pfizer vaccine and pretend that the election is still undecided.
Maeve Reston at CNN thinks Trump is beginning to accept reality: Trump wavers between reality and election fiction with eye on his legacy during Rose Garden vaccine address.
President Donald Trump had an eye on his legacy as he strode to the microphone in the White House Rose Garden Friday and touted the administration’s “unequaled and unrivaled” efforts to help produce a coronavirus vaccine through Operation Warp Speed. Then, for a brief moment, he seemed close to acknowledging the reality that his presidency is almost over.
“I will not — this administration will not be doing a lockdown,” Trump said, speaking for the first time in a week as coronavirus cases in the US shatter records and hospitalizations are surging. “Hopefully whatever happens in the future — who knows which administration it will be — I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”
It was a fleeting shift in tone suggesting that the reality of President-elect Joe Biden’s substantial win is seeping into Trump’s psyche even as he and his advisers publicly deny it.
The Democrat now has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 as a result of wins in two longtime Republican states, Arizona and Georgia, CNN projects — far above the 270 threshold that Biden needed to clinch the presidency. But the indisputable math has not prevented the President from continuing to try to whip up outrage among his supporters on Twitter with unfounded accusations that the election has been stolen from him.
Friday’s speech in the Rose Garden was a portrait of a President clinging to power as his legal challenges to the election results crumble around him, mindful that he ought to show Americans what he’s been doing with the power of government as he spends his days tweeting conspiracy theories about lost or deleted votes in the midst of a pandemic that is coursing through the United States.
Except he isn’t really doing anything about the most pressing problem facing the country–the pandemic. Philip Bump at The Washington Post: Trump also refuses to admit he lost the fight against the coronavirus.
“Case levels are high, but a lot of the case levels are high because of the fact that we have the best testing program anywhere in the world,” he said. “We’ve developed the most and the best tests, and we test far more than any other country. So it shows obviously more cases.”
This is false for a variety of reasons. The most obvious misstatement is that the current surge in new cases, leading to 1 in every 350 Americans contracting the virus in the past week, is solely a function of more testing. In reality, the number of new cases during this surge (which began around Sept. 12) has easily outpaced the increase in the number of tests being conducted. The rate at which tests are coming back positive is more than 9 percent at the moment, twice what it was a month ago.
It’s also important to remember that the United States has conducted so many tests because we’ve had to. Countries like South Korea effectively contained the virus and therefore didn’t have to keep testing hundreds of thousands of people a week. It’s our failure to contain the virus that necessitates a broad deployment of testing….
“The federal government has 22,000 beds immediately available for states and jurisdictions that need additional capacity,” Trump said Friday. “But we think that it’s going to start going down possibly very quickly. We’ll see what happens. But with the vaccine, you’ll see numbers going down within a matter of months. And it’ll go down very rapidly.”
There’s no indication that the need for hospital capacity is going to go down quickly. It’s also not clear where that federal capacity is or how states can access it. It may be the case that the vaccine will drive down new infections and hospitalizations, but even limited distribution of the vaccine is weeks away. For most Americans, it’s months away, and cases are surging now.
Read more at the WaPo.
As I wrote in a comment yesterday, I think Trump should be prosecuted for negligent homicide. At Alternet, via Raw Story, Cory Fenwick writes: The Trump plan for mass death is unfolding before our eyes.
On Friday, the COVID Tracking Project reported that the number of positive coronavirus infections in the last day had reached 170,000, the highest record ever and a number that was, just a few months ago, hard to imagine. It’s now our daily reality, and it’s likely to only get worse.
Other figures are just as frightening. Hospitalizations — one of the clearest signs of the seriousness of the out break —have reached a new high at 69,000, according to the project. Deaths are at a disturbing 1,300, though that rate is almost certain to spike in recent weeks following the more recent spike in cases. And as the newest and largest wave yet engulfs the country, reports have begun to appear of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients, which is almost certainly a precursor to a spike in the case fatality rate.
It’s our horrifying new status quo, and one that experts and observers have been warning would unfold this fall for months. But the ming-boggling truth is that for the Trump administration, everything is pretty much going as planned.
Ever since the first wave in the spring, President Donald Trump has seemed increasingly drawn to the so-called (and, indeed, misleadingly named) “herd immunity” approach to the pandemic. On this approach, you reject government restrictions meant to stop people from getting the virus. What advocates of this strategy believe is that it’s best that more people get the virus, because eventually, enough people will have had it, they’ll immune, and life will return to normal.
Click the link to read the rest.
This piece by Ed Yong at The Atlantic is a must read: ‘No One Is Listening to Us.’ More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.
There’s much more at the link. I hope you’ll take the time to read it.
It’s so sad to see North Dakota, my birthplace and the state where my parents were born and raised, experiencing such a terrible health emergency. USA Today: The Dakotas are ‘as bad as it gets anywhere in the world’ for COVID-19.
South Dakota welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to a massive motorcycle rally this summer, declined to cancel the state fair and still doesn’t require masks. Now its hospitals are filling up and the state’s current COVID-19 death rate is among the worst in the world.
The situation is similarly dire in North Dakota, with the state’s governor recently moving to allow health care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 to continue working if they don’t show symptoms. It’s a controversial policy recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a crisis situation where hospitals are short-staffed.
And now — after months of resisting a statewide mask mandate — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum changed course late Friday, ordering masks to be worn statewide and imposing several business restrictions.
“Our situation has changed, and we must change with it,” Burgum said in a video message posted at 10 p.m. Friday. Doctors and nurses “need our help, and they need it now,” he said.
Both North and South Dakota now face a predictably tragic reality that health experts tell USA TODAY could have been largely prevented with earlier public health actions.
Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota is still resisting. Sioux Falls Argus Leader: If Joe Biden enacts mask mandates, lockdowns, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem won’t enforce them.
The office of Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement to the Argus Leader Friday that the first-term governor, who’s risen to stardom in the Republican party for her hands-off approach to managing the pandemic, has no intention of using state resources to enforce any federal COVID-19 orders.
“It’s a good day for freedom. Joe Biden realizes that the president doesn’t have the authority to institute a mask mandate,” said Ian Fury, communications specialist for Noem. “For that matter, neither does Governor Noem, which is why she has provided her citizens with the full scope of the science and trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones.”
Famous last words?
More stories to check out today:
The New York Times: It’s Traumatizing: Coronavirus Deaths are Climbing Again.
Susan Rice at The New York Times: Here’s How Trump’s Stalling Risks Our National Security.
The New York Times: Christopher Krebs Hasn’t Been Fired, Yet.
Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!