U.S. hospitals are in danger of running out of space to treat both those who have contracted the coronavirus and the ongoing needs of other patients, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
“A bed is a gift right now,” said Jason Craig, regional chair for the Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin. “I’ll take all of them.”
Some places are already facing extreme measures, such as in Utah, where doctors acknowledge they are, out of necessity, informally providing some patients a lower level of service than they should receive, while in El Paso the National Guard has been activated to deal with the overwhelming number of coronavirus corpses.
Although these dire examples are not widespread, the pandemic is already raging throughout the U.S., with more than 91,000 COVID patients in their beds, and experts expect the situation to worsen in the coming weeks as the weather turns cold and Americans increasingly stay indoors.
In addition to the need for beds, an even more challenging task is finding enough doctors, nurses, and other staff needed to give care as the pandemic places unprecedented demand on the entire country at the same time.
This is providing difficulties even for Mayo, one of the most prestigious and well-resourced systems in American medicine, where the Post was allowed for two days this month to watch from inside the largest of its five northwest Wisconsin hospitals as it dealt with the virus’s staggering consequences.
Until the surge eases, there is only one glimmer of hope in that Mayo was recently notified that its first shipment of the vaccine would arrive in early January, and a team already is working on a distribution plan.
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