October 26, 2020 – With coronavirus hospitalizations surging in much of the U.S. and daily cases hitting all-time highs, the pandemic has increased the strain on local health systems, prompting plans for makeshift medical centers and considering rationing care.
New reported infections nationwide surpassed 80,000 for the first time ever Friday and again Saturday, as hospitalizations push past 40,000 and daily death tolls begin to climb.
This new wave of infections, expected to intensify as winter draws closer, is spread wider than the spring surge that devastated East Coast states and the summer wave that hit the South and the Southwest.
This past week brought the highest number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic started. Dozens of states have seen a seven-day average of more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people, with more than 700 per 100,000 in North Dakota — population-wise, that would be the equivalent of Florida reporting more than 20,000 cases during the same time period.
In Texas, authorities are scrambling to shore up resources in El Paso, where intensive care units hit full capacity on Saturday and where COVID-19 hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled to almost 800 in less than three weeks.
In Utah, the state hospital association warned that if current trends hold, it will soon have to ask the governor to invoke “crisis standards of care” .”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday announced plans for a new medical facility at El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center, which will start at 50 beds but can expand to 100 if necessary. “Auxiliary medical units” will boost hospitals’ capacity, the governor’s office said, and the Department of Health and Human Services is sending out teams, too…