Hidden Data Reveals Where Hospitals Are Reaching Capacity With COVID Patients
NPR obtained Department of Health and Human Services documents detailing hospitalization trends that the Trump administration withholds from the public. In related news, medical facilities in Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas battle the fall surge while preparing for winter.
Internal Documents Reveal COVID-19 Hospitalization Data The Government Keeps Hidden
As coronavirus cases rise swiftly around the country, surpassing both the spring and summer surges, health officials brace for a coming wave of hospitalization and deaths. Knowing which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity could be key to an effective response to the growing crisis. That information is gathered by the federal government — but not shared openly with the public. NPR has obtained documents that give a snapshot of data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collects and analyzes daily. The documents — reports sent to agency staffers — highlight trends in hospitalizations and pinpoint cities nearing full hospital capacity and facilities under stress. They paint a granular picture of the strain on hospitals across the country that could help local citizens decide when to take extra precautions against COVID-19. (Huang and Simmons-Duffin, 10/30)
Winter COVID-19 Wave Poses Threat To Nation's Hospitals
Coronavirus hospitalizations are rising in the United States as a wave builds ahead of winter, threatening to overwhelm hospitals in some areas. Several major European countries currently have even worse outbreaks than the U.S., but former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned Wednesday that the U.S. is on a trajectory to match them in about three weeks. (Sullivan, 10/29)
Wisconsin Is On Track To Run Short Of ICU Beds In Two To Six Weeks
Wisconsin is on track to run out of beds in the intensive care unit and, more importantly, the nurses to staff them, in as little as two weeks if the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 does not drop. On Tuesday, when the state reported a record 5,200 positive cases, only 187 of the state's 1,469 intensive care unit beds were available. Of the patients in ICUs, 319 were being treated for COVID-19. Given the trajectory of new cases, the number of COVID-19 patients being treated could double in two to six weeks, said Bill Melms, chief medical officer for Marshfield Clinic Health System. (Boulton, 10/29)
The Baltimore Sun:
Maryland Hospitals Hope To Avoid Nationwide Surge Of Coronavirus Cases But Are Planning For The Worst
As the United States sets records for new coronavirus cases, overwhelming hospitals in states including Texas, Utah and the Dakotas, Maryland still has beds and supplies to spare. Cases have been climbing in Maryland this month, reaching a high since Aug. 1 of 962 new cases Thursday. Hospitalizations topped 500 Wednesday, after falling to a low in late September, but still remain well below the peak in early May of more than 1,700 hospitalized. (Cohn, 10/30)
Amid COVID-19 Upswing, El Paso, Texas, Doctor Says ICU Is 'Surreal' And 'Strange'
A dramatic upswing in COVID-19 cases and positivity rates in El Paso, Texas, has led officials to ask residents to stay at home for two weeks and to impose a mandatory countywide curfew. Dr. Ogechika Alozie, chief medical officer of the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, told NPR's Morning Edition that as you walk through the intensive care unit "it hits you just how surreal and how strange this is." (Greene, 10/29)