More than 60,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID on Tuesday—that’s 2,000 people more than the previous record set in April.
As the United States reckons with the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic—which includes breaking yet another COVID-19 record—the Trump administration’s response to the virus continues to fall flat.
On Tuesday, more than 60,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as health officials and medical providers raise concerns about hospitals facing a dire shortage of intensive care unit beds. According to the COVID Tracking Project, 61,694 people were hospitalized as of Tuesday—that’s more than 2,000 higher than the previous record set in April.
The third wave of the virus, which reportedly started in September, has now surpassed over 10 million cases. The country with the second-highest number of cases is India with 8.64 million and Brazil follows with a total of 5.7 million cases.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are five times more likely to die than if they were hospitalized with the flu. As of Wednesday, more than 240,000 Americans have died because of the virus—by far the largest death toll in the world.
Texas has seen some of the worst of the pandemic. El Paso, a border town in the western part of the Lone Star State, has more people hospitalized with COVID than many other states. On Tuesday, about 1,076 people were hospitalized in the city with a population of 680,000. The hospitalization and death rates are accelerating so rapidly that the city had to increase its mobile morgues from four to 10.
These alarming figures come at a time of a risky impasse between the Trump administration and President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team. Several senior Trump officials were told not to cooperate with the incoming Biden team regarding executing a peaceful transition of power, according to the Washington Post.
The General Services Administration (GSA)—a smaller government agency in charge of federal buildings—has thus far refused to sign the necessary legal paperwork that would allow the president-elect to be briefed with classified information and communicate with the Pentagon to discuss its vaccination distribution program. While the president-elect has already appointed a 13-member COVID-19 task force—which, unlike the Trump-appointed team, is made up entirely of doctors, scientists, and public health experts—the GSA’s refusal to formally permit the transition team to begin work is interfering with Biden’s plans to combat the virus.
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The White House, meanwhile, has not made any statements acknowledging the third wave of the virus or announced any plans to mitigate the transmission rates. The New York Times also reported that the Strategic National Stockpile, where the country reserves its emergency supplies, has only about 115 million N95 masks—which is about 300 million shorter than the administration aimed to originally procure. Some public officials are concerned that the US might experience another dire shortage of protective equipment.
The bureaucratic stand-off ordered by Trump comes as public health experts express concerns that, without appropriate action, the pandemic will only get worse in the coming months. Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the country could be facing a “hard winter,” and several other public health experts say that the number of overburdened hospitals could increase as the transmission rate continues to rise rapidly.
In Utah, for example, Gov. Gary Herbert announced a state of emergency in his state and a face mask mandate as it endures 2,000 new cases daily and a rise in hospitalizations.
Hospitals in North Dakota, meanwhile, have already reached their patient limit, forcing state health officials to let virus-carrying healthcare workers continue working if they are asymptomatic. According to Oklahoma health officials, hospitals in Tulsa have run out of available ICU beds for new COVID-19 patients.