Washington | After a very rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases for several weeks in the United States, hospitals in several regions are now under pressure again, forcing local authorities to take new measures in an attempt to deal with the ‘epidemic.
• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic
Americans fear today a European scenario, while the average contamination now exceeds 100,000 new cases every day.
Some 62,000 people sick with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized on American soil, according to the Covid Tracking Project, unheard of.
The situation is particularly worrying in the region of El Paso, Texas, which has exceeded one million cases detected.
El Paso County, on the border with Mexico, alone has more than 1,000 people hospitalized, compared to just over 6,000 throughout Texas. Hospitals there are 40% occupied by COVID-19 patients.
“It’s a very dark time,” said Dr. Ogechika Alozie, of Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, interviewed Wednesday morning on CNN. “The word that stands out is fatigue and frustration. “
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has asked to use a military medical center to accommodate patients other than those with COVID-19, to free up spaces. Additional mobile mortuaries must also be installed.
Deaths on the rise
The situation in El Paso also reflects the difficulties in implementing restrictive measures in a country where the federal government has not given firm leadership at the national level.
Faced with the outbreak of the epidemic, the highest official in El Paso County ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in late October for two weeks. A measure immediately contested by the mayor of this city of 680,000 inhabitants, as well as by the state prosecutor.
President Trump, who has consistently played down the epidemic, has left it to state, county and city officials to deal with the health crisis.
He has placed a lot of his hopes on the rapid development of a vaccine. The positive results of clinical trials conducted by the Pfizer laboratory point to the start of vaccination at the end of this year or early 2021.
But the urgency is immediate. “The speed of the increase in hospitalizations for COVID (…) portends a long and tragic period of rising deaths,” said former head of the Medicines Agency Scott Gottlieb.
“Cases increase first, followed about two weeks later by hospitalizations, then about two weeks later by deaths,” recalled New York emergency physician and Columbia University teacher Craig Spencer. “All the data is going in the wrong direction, and fast. “
If the number of deaths recorded each day is still far from having risen to the level of spring, the United States deplored more than 1,500 deaths in 24 hours Tuesday.
The first wave never fell in the United States, but the contaminations curve experienced a total of three notable increases: a first in the spring, with the epicenter of New York State, a rebound during the summer, particularly in the south of the country, and a new peak since mid-October, at levels never before reached.
The records set are currently set by the Midwest.
In North and South Dakota, more than one in 2,000 residents is currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum this week authorized health workers who tested positive to continue working in units dedicated to the virus, in order to cope with “enormous pressure” on the healthcare system.
In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz ordered bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m., and a 10-person limit for any gathering.
Further west, in Utah, wearing a mask in public has been made mandatory statewide.
President-elect Joe Biden again pleaded for the wearing of the mask on Monday, which he said “is not a political posture.” He has pledged to tackle the health crisis from day one in office on January 20.