US COVID-19 surge breaks hospital records

·2-min read

Kentucky and Texas have joined a growing list of American states that are seeing record numbers of hospitalised COVID-19 patients in a surge that is overwhelming doctors and nurses and afflicting more children.

Intensive care units around the nation are packed with patients extremely ill with the coronavirus - even in places where hospitalisations have not yet reached earlier peaks.

In New Mexico, top health officials warned on Wednesday the state is about a week away from rationing health care. The number of coronavirus patients needing care at hospitals jumped more than 20 per cent in a day.

"We're going to have to choose who gets care and who doesn't get care," state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase warned. "And we don't want to get to that point."

In Idaho, state leaders called on residents to volunteer to help keep medical facilities operating.

Texas and Kentucky on Wednesday reported more COVID-19 patients in their hospitals than at any other time since the pandemic began, 14,255 and 2,074, respectively. The Texas record is based on US Department of Health and Human Services data.

At least six other states - Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Mississippi and Oregon - have already broken their hospitalisation records.

Nationwide, COVID-19 deaths are running at more than 1100 a day, the highest level since mid-March, and new cases per day are averaging over 152,000, turning the clock back to the end of January.

As of early this week, the number of people in the hospital with the coronavirus was about 85,000, a level not seen since early February.

The surge is largely fuelled by the highly-contagious Delta variant among people who are unvaccinated. In areas where vaccination rates are particularly low, doctors have pleaded with their communities to get inoculated to spare overburdened hospitals.

They have also sounded the alarm about the growing toll of the variant on children and young adults.

Children make up 36 per cent of Tennessee's reported COVID-19 cases, marking yet another sobering milestone in the state's battle against the virus, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said Wednesday.

She said the state had 14,000 pediatric cases in the last seven days - a 57 per cent increase over the previous week.

In South Carolina, students will again be required to wear masks on school buses starting Monday as COVID-19 cases among children and students rise rapidly.

Nearly 30 per cent of new cases in South Carolina in the past two weeks have been in people 20 and under. During the same time in 2020, about 17 per cent of cases were in children and teens, according to state officials.

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