Hospitals warn they’re running low on beds and staff as the pandemic spikes across the country.
U.S. coronavirus deaths surpassed a quarter-million on Wednesday as the pandemic continued to rage across the nation, threatening to overwhelm health care systems.
The milestone, based on a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University, came as the nation recorded an average of more than 150,000 cases per day over the past week, with about 70,000 people hospitalized, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The U.S. continues to lead the world in deaths and confirmed cases, with about 11.5 million infections, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. The U.S. accounts for about 18.5 percent of coronavirus deaths globally, even though it comprises just 4 percent of the world’s population. Brazil has the next highest number of total deaths, with 166,699, followed by India, with 130,993.
Public health officials have long warned of a grim winter and rising daily death counts that exceed the peak of the summer wave. But the quarter-million mark is especially stark, considering that government scientists last spring viewed 240,000 U.S. deaths as a high-end estimate.
Meanwhile, hospitals in the Midwest and elsewhere are already warning there are not enough doctors and nurses to handle the surging caseload, with 22 percent of hospitals — excluding those that focus on psychiatric care or rehabilitation — reporting staff shortages in mid-November according to HHS data. Intensive care units are nearly at capacity, with multiple states approaching 90 percent occupancy across all facilities.
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