Wednesday was the worst day new cases were recorded, with over 140,000 cases at both WorldOMeters and Johns Hopkins. Expect that record to fall by the wayside today. Then you expect this record to fall tomorrow. So we are right now – on an exponential growth curve that shows no signs of an end.
Just a week earlier, the number of cases on Wednesday was 30,000 below the levels reported that week. That means the difference between last week and this week is as big as the entire “peak” of the April outbreak. The current conditions are appalling, appalling, appalling … there are no words that adequately express the magnitude of the Lovecraft disaster the nation is currently facing.
Hospital stays in the United States are at a record high, and that statement means more than it has in the past. Rather than operating highly localized demand for locations like New York City to fill stadiums with rollaway beds, the current wave is filling beds across the country. As a personal example, a friend who tested positive here in St. Louis two days ago was rushed to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after her blood oxygen levels dropped into the 1980s. As of Thursday morning, she's still waiting in a hallway while a growing search for a room continues. Only there are no rooms. Not in this hospital or any other nearby.
The same thing happens in rural areas where fewer options are available at the best of times. In South Dakota (where Governor Kristi Noem always has time to defraud her supporters) cases are slightly lower than they were a week ago, but the need for hospital beds continues to rise. This also applies to the deaths resulting from this recent surge. In both South and North Dakota, over 20% of all hospital beds are now filled with COVID-19 patients.
As NPR reported on Tuesday, not only has the total number of hospitalizations exceeded the peak seen during previous waves of COVID-19, this latest wave shows no signs of vertexing either. South Dakota leads the way in hospital admissions per 100,000, but other states are not far behind. And few states have anything like the ability to make a significant percentage of their population sick at the same time. Even locations known to the surrounding states as "hospital centers" are popping up in full. Illinois was growing at such a staggering rate that the public health director broke down in tears while reporting the statistics – and the numbers have doubled since that day. Texas recorded the highest total number of COVID-19 patients in the nation as the numbers there returned to levels seen during the earlier "sunbelt surge".
Throughout the United States, beds are either already full or becoming full, and cases are increasing as little or no action is taken. With Donald Trump angry about his loss of the election, and with Scott Atlas not so secretly advancing the idea of herd immunity, it's not like things are going to get better anytime soon. Some governors across the country have already started tightening restrictions and there will be more reluctant steps to address the disaster over the next few weeks. These efforts could ultimately break the back of the current exponential growth curve. But not today.
In the meantime … don't go to Thanksgiving. Stay at home. Save a turkey. Shop on site. And wear a mask, damn it. Oh, and you'll be happy to know that my mom is here with us now, so my Tassie stash won't be affected.