"It's not like the flu": A COVID-19 patient's warning as Midwest sees record hospitalizations

Midwest hospitals see record COVID-19 patients
Midwest hospitals see record COVID-19 patient... 02:27

Hospitals in the Midwest and the Great Plains are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients — a 50% spike in the last month in the U.S. Hot spots are Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Minnesota. Cases are on the rise and average daily deaths have doubled over the last two weeks, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

In North Dakota, over the last seven days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the highest COVID-19 death rate per capita in the U.S. The state has also reported one of the lowest mask-wearing rates in the country, between 45% and 49%, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Dr. Austin Simonson, a hospital physician at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said they're seeing consistent high numbers.

"There doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to it," said Simonson. "I have a 97-year-old who is doing wonderfully, and somebody much younger than that — we're not certain they're going to survive the day."

In nearby Wisconsin, many of the intensive care units are at or near capacity. One of those patients in Wisconsin is Carmen Lerma, who is recovering from a double-lung transplant after coronavirus destroyed her lungs.

"It's not like the flu," said Lerma. "It doesn't feel like a flu. I was pretty healthy. I was pretty healthy, and look at me."

The federal government said if a vaccine is authorized in November, they could start distributing to frontline workers and the most vulnerable people by the end of the year.

"If we get a vaccination campaign, I think it will be easily by the end of 2021, and perhaps even into the next year before we start having some semblances of normality," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert.

But some states remain skeptical of the process. Washington, Oregon and Nevada now say they will partner with California to independently review any Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine before distributing it to the public.

  • David Begnaud
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    David Begnaud is the lead national correspondent for "CBS This Morning" based in New York City.