As the US notches another grim Covid-19 milestone, healthcare workers are desperately urging the public to take precautions against the spread of the infectious disease.
Without a national-level strategy to curb the virus, the country recorded its 12th million case over the weekend.
The virus is raging as millions of Americans are expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials and leaving frontline healthcare workers bracing for a wave of new patients.
More than 1 million people flew through US airports on Friday (local time) and a further 984,369 followed on Saturday, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.
That makes Friday the second-heaviest domestic air traffic day since the start of the pandemic, despite pleas from health officials for people to stay home.
Crowds at Sky Harbor: The day after the CDC recommended people cancel their Thanksgiving travel plans, #azfamily viewer Ed Westerfield caught this scene of passengers waiting at their gates pic.twitter.com/r9gIhWlbek
— Max Gorden (@Max_Gorden) November 21, 2020
‘This is devastating’: Doctor’s text goes viral
A now viral text message sent by an American doctor to actress June Diane Raphael gives a glimpse into what healthcare workers are facing, with many worried of worse to come.
The critical care doctor named Kate lamented the fact that people weren’t wearing masks and making Thanksgiving plans as hospitals became overwhelmed.
“I am carrying more and sicker patients than ever in my career. They are almost all Covid. I expect at least half of them to die,” she said in the text message that was posted online last week.
She lamented the fact they will die after spending weeks alone in the hospital.
“I have to call their families and update them daily. I sobbed on the phone to one [mother] who I have to update about her daughter who will likely die.”
Like many healthcare workers, she complained that her hospital was “overflowing” and short staffed.
“People complain about their personal freedoms ... but give no respect to others’ rights to live and give no thought to the mental effects of accidentally infecting and killing grandma or the trauma they are imposing on healthcare workers,” she said.
“This is devastating.”
— June Diane Raphael (@MsJuneDiane) November 15, 2020
Frontline healthcare workers across the country have been speaking out about the horrors they have witnessed and complain about staff shortages and insufficient PPE, with some nurses going on strike.
Jim Gentile a nurse at St Mary medical centre outside of Philadelphia where workers have gone on strike, told The Guardian on the weekend he had put more people in body bags in two months during the pandemic than he had in the past 25 years of his career.
“Many of us have PTSD, and many of us would just sob on the way home,” he said. “And then 10 hours later we’d get back on the horse and do it all over again.”
Positivity rates on the rise
Nationwide, the positivity rate from coronavirus cases have risen to around 10 per cent of all tests, but it is well into the 30s and 40s in midwestern states including South Dakota, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Oklahoma and Kansas.
New Jersey, California, Mississippi, Idaho, and Oregon reported record numbers of cases on Saturday (local time), while forty different states announced more than 1,000 new daily cases.
Across the country, deaths rose by 31 per cent from the week before, according to the Covid Tracking Project. As deaths are a lagging indicator, that increase is certain to continue in the coming weeks following the sharp rise in cases.
The Covid-19 epidemic has claimed more than 255,000 lives in the United States – more than in any other nation – and the recent escalation has prompted more than 20 states to impose sweeping new restrictions this month to curb the virus.
There is currently more than 83,000 people hospitalised with Covid-19 in the country, also a record number.
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