After America reached the grim milestone of more than 10 million positive coronavirus cases in just 10 months, healthcare systems in multiple areas around the country are warning their hospital bed capacity is nearing or at 100 percent full.
In North Dakota, the governor said this week their hospitals have reached their limit, and depending how the next few weeks go, facilities could be pushed past their capabilities.
He issued an urgent plea asking residents to take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He also amended a state order to allow asymptomatic health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 to continue working in COVID-19 units of a healthcare facility.
“Our hospitals are under enormous pressure now,” Governor Doug Burgum said. “We can see the future two, three weeks out, and we know that we have severe constraints.”
Bergum is asking that businesses and events or gatherings be reduced to 25 percent or a max of 50 people, and said face coverings should be required. However, he did not issue a statewide mask mandate.
In Iowa, UnityPoint Health Des Moines, which runs four hospitals in the capital city, says they are at capacity and all their beds are full.
Polk County, where Des Moines is located, saw the most new hospitalizations on one day Monday, with 191 new coronavirus patients.
The county has issued a “plea to our community to please help in our fight against COVID-19.” They say they are “facing bed shortages and staffing shortages,” and ask people to wear a mask, wash hands, and practice social distancing so the healthcare system does not become overwhelmed.
On Monday, the Iowa Health Department said there were more than 1,100 people hospitalized in the state with coronavirus. Iowa has a total of about 2,800 inpatient hospital beds available, with 382 of them in intensive care units spread around the state.
Hospitalizations around the country have nearly doubled since late September. Tuesday morning, roughly 59,000 Americans were in the hospital because of the coronavirus.
Health experts are worried about the recent spike in coronavirus cases. They are widespread across the country, and not focused on a handful of “epicenters” like there were earlier this spring and summer.
This means resources like staff and equipment cannot be shuffled around to the places that need it, because everywhere is overwhelmed.