Alarm as 97,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19

Following a month of skyrocketing Covid-19 cases, the US has reached its highest number yet of hospitalizations due to the virus. – CNN

With weather getting colder and more people gathering indoors, experts have cautioned that the already climbing number of cases could get worse in the coming weeks.

“If anything, we are rounding the corner into a calamity,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency medicine physician and a visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

In Los Angeles County alone, at least 1,951 people were hospitalized on Saturday as health officials watch concerning increases in coronavirus metrics.

“The last time the county saw numbers this high at our hospitals was in August,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director, said Saturday.

The county saw “a small increase in deaths earlier this week,” said Ferrer, but that increase is still concerning and highlights the importance of following stay-home orders.

And the number of cases is rising for healthcare workers — particularly nurses in the area, Ferrer said.

With the county at about 75% capacity for hospital beds already, residents disregarding precautions over holiday weekends could lead to “a surge on top of a surge,” Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has called an emergency meeting for Tuesday, where members will vote on which groups of people should get a Covid-19 vaccine first, once one is authorized.

“It is a significant advancement in the development and progression towards having a vaccine available,” Rick Bright, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, said Friday.

Fellow board member Dr. Celine Gounder told CNN that vaccinations may begin before 2021, which is in line with projections made by other health experts.

“People who are doing things that we really can’t function without” should be some of the first to get vaccinated, Gounder said.

“Doctors, nurses who are caring for patients in the hospital, including patients with coronavirus, should very much be among those first receiving the vaccine,” Gounder told CNN’s Boris Sanchez on Saturday.

People at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus should also be considered for early vaccination, she said.

And while most adults will have access to vaccinations by next year, children may have to wait much longer, according to Dr. Esther Choo, professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.