HealthDay News — As the United States witnessed record-breaking daily COVID-19 case counts over the weekend, public health experts warned that hospitals may soon reach a breaking point.
More than 41,000 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across the country, a 40 percent rise in the past month, The New York Times reported. But in sharp contrast to the early days of the pandemic, more of these patients are being cared for in sparsely populated parts of the country, where the medical infrastructure is not as strong as it is in metropolitan areas, The Times reported.
In Utah last week, hospital administrators warned Gov. Gary Herbert that they would soon have to ration access to intensive care units and requested state approval for criteria to decide which patients should get priority,The Salt Lake Tribune reported. “We told him, ‘It looks like we’re going to have to request those be activated if this trend continues,’ and we see no reason why it won’t,” Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, told TheTribune.
In Kansas City, medical centers turned away ambulances this month because they had no room for more patients. In Idaho, a hospital that was 99 percent full has warned it might have to send COVID-19 patients to hospitals as far away as Seattle and Portland, Oregon, The Times reported. Hospitals in hard-hit parts of the country are resorting to a tactic commonly used during the pandemic as it depletes medical resources: limiting other medical services, the newspaper said. In Tennessee, the Maury Regional Medical Center on Saturday suspended all elective procedures requiring an overnight stay to make room for COVID-19 patients. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the federal government to authorize the use of a military hospital at Fort Bliss, outside El Paso, to treat civilian non-COVID-19 patients, TheTimesreported. In places like Milwaukee and Salt Lake City, field hospitals are already being opened.