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Nationwide coronavirus surge pushes hospitals to the edge

COVID surge pushes hospitals to the brink
Coronavirus surge pushes hospitals to the brink 04:25

Los Angeles — More than 85,000 Americans are hospitalized with the coronavirus, setting a new record for the 14th consecutive day, according to figures from the COVID Tracking Project. A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says more than 1,000 hospitals across the country are now critically short on staff. These include hospitals like Stormont Vail in Topeka, Kansas, which is now filled to capacity with more than 100 COVID-19 patients.

"What is worrying to me is two weeks from now Thanksgiving and having a lot of cases that will end up coming to us, or to other hospitals, and there's no beds," said Dr. Hassan Taha, with Stormont Vail Health

St. Louis intensive care unit Dr. Kenneth Remy made a video showing what a coronavirus patient's final moments are like before going on a ventilator.

"This is what it looks like when you breathe 40 times a minute," he's heard saying in the video.

When asked if there was a specific moment that prompted him to make this video, Remy replied, "I've actually called about 11 different families to let them know in the middle of the night that their loved one had unfortunately succumbed to COVID disease. It's one of the worst phone calls you could ever make."

Around the country, the numbers are staggering. There's nearly a 30% increase in COVID-19 cases among children nationwide in the past two weeks alone. But severe illness in kids is still rare.

In El Paso, Texas, there are now 14 mobile morgues as that city's death toll rises. And 27 people have died at a veterans home in LaSalle, Illinois.

In California, the mayor of Los Angeles said cases are climbing so quickly in his city that they will be out of hospital beds by Christmas. Los Angeles is considering a lockdown as coronavirus cases skyrocket across the state. In-person dining has already been banned starting Wednesday.

The federal government said help is on the way. On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced more than 6 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine could go out after it receives approval as early as December 10.

"We expect by the end of December to have enough vaccines to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable," said Azar. "By the end of January, we think we would have enough to vaccinate our senior citizens as well as our health care workers."

Marina Burciaga's husband, Paul, died earlier in November after battling the coronavirus for four months. She had this message for those planning to attend holiday gatherings:

"What if it's your last Thanksgiving with your loved one? Well, I would hate to be the one to make it the last Thanksgiving for my loved one."

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