More Americans are now in the hospital with Covid-19 than at any other point since late August, causing some states to nearly run out of hospital beds, as coronavirus infections continue to increase nationwide ahead of a potential end-of-year surge.
Some 37,048 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Wednesday, the highest level in almost two months according to new data from the COVID Tracking Project, though total hospitalizations are still below their mid-April peak of almost 60,000.
Among hospitalized patients, 7,156 were in ICUs and 1,776 are currently on ventilators — both of those numbers have increased slightly in recent weeks.
Texas leads the nation with more than 4,000 patients in hospitals, followed by California and Florida, though all three states’ hospital counts declined since the summer.
Hospitalizations and new cases soared in Wisconsin over the last month, and officials opened an emergency field hospital near Milwaukee this week as medical centers across the state fear they will run out of space.
Hospital numbers are also on the rise across other parts of the Midwest and South: Missouri reported a new record this week, and levels in Kentucky and Ohio are both within striking distance of their summertime peaks.
217,933. That’s the total number of Americans who have died from Covid-19, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Daily fatalities are still below their peak in April, but they remain steady at more than 700 per day.
When the coronavirus first surged in the New York City area, some hospitals nearly buckled under the pressure, contending with thousands of sick patients and inadequate protective equipment. Covid-19 cases gradually decreased nationwide but never fully subsided. The West Coast and Deep South dealt with cascading upticks after states loosened coronavirus restrictions during the summer, and the Midwest and small states like South Dakota are now struggling to open up more hospital capacity as new infections surge. Some experts warn cases could spike yet again over the fall and winter, straining the nation’s medical system and making it tough to get sick patients the medical attention they need.
“When we see an overwhelming number of patients get infected, a lot of them are going to need hospitalization and support,” Dara Kass, a New York-based emergency room physician, told CBS News on Thursday. “We’re seeing hospitals in Wisconsin be overwhelmed with no ICU beds … This is a big concern of those of us who are looking to prevent as many deaths as possible.”