COVID-19 cases collapse system

Doctors and nurses struggling to maintain care as COVID-19 cases spiral, say they feel like they’re living in their own world these days.

More Americans would take the virus seriously, they say, if they could see and hear what’s happening within the hospitals’ walls.

“I was working during the first wave, and it was like a horror movie. The things I’ve seen can’t be unseen,” said Jennifer Koczon-Knief, a nurse from Hillsborough, New Jersey, who was hoping to stop the wild misinformation spreading about the virus.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said COVID-19 is goving rise to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) impacting hospital staff.

Doctors and nurses would see staff working so many shifts and so exhausted that they look like “the walking dead,” as described by Dr. Walter Halloran, a cardio-thoracic surgeon in Michiana, the region in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan centered on the city of South Bend.

In nearby Fort Wayne, discussion is taking place about using a building known for hosting sporting events, concerts and trade shows as a hospital in a worst case scenario.

The Memorial Coliseum is not going to be immediately converted into a temporary facility to care for COVID patients but it may be transformed for treatment if local hospitals run out of room to house them.

In the U.S., health-care are facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two.

There are still no cures, and the best avaikable drug—the steroid dexamethasone—reduces the odds of dying from COVID-19 by only about 12 percent. 

The increase in cases is translating into higher numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations among states in every region of the country.

Our nation’s system of mostly private health care financing is at risk for a COVID 19-caused meltdown in the weeks and months ahead. For our nation’s hospitals and the patients they serve, the consequences could be grievous.

If you’re a fan of “Medicare for All,” a private-coverage meltdown might seem just what the doctor should order when viral apocalypse threatens.

But were our system of paying for care privately to collapse, hospitals would lose a major revenue source.

Federal intervention could rescue what’s in jeopardy but the U.S. Senate is still controlled by the Republican Party operator whose top priority was denying the Democrat a second term when President Obama entered the White House and inherited a global economic crisis plus two wars that had dragged on for nearly a decade.

Precise prediction of coronavirus caseloads isn’t possible, but leading models converge on the midrange projection that 40 percent of Americans—roughly 100 million adults—will become infected over the next six to 18 months. 

In most scenarios, “vast communities in America are not prepared to take care of the COVID-19 patients showing up,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, who led a team of researchers that developed a best-case scenario, where Americans quickly slow the spread of the virus through social distancing, and the infection rate among adults remains at 20%.

That is still 49.4 million people over the age of 18, close to twice the number of people who get the flu each year. But many more Covid-19 patients die compared to those with flu infections.

The swift and massive shock of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown measures to contain it have already plunged the global economy into the deepest recession since the Second World War, with the largest fraction of economies experiencing declines in per capita output since 1870, according to the World Bank.

Such a severe contraction can only be intensified by the failure of the nation’s health care system.

If Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell takes the same approach to Biden as he did with Obama, the whole world is at risk.

In the imminent future, patients will start to die because there simply aren’t enough people to care for them.

Doctors and nurses will burn out. The most precious resource the U.S. health-care system has in the struggle against COVID-19 isn’t some miracle drug. It’s the expertise of its health-care workers—and they are exhausted.

Nurses and doctors are also falling sick themselves.

“Our unplanned time off is double what it was last October,” says Allison Suttle of Sanford Health, a health system operating in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

“The winter is traditionally a very stressful time in health care, and everyone gets taken down at some point,” says Saskia Popescu, an infection preventionist at George Mason University. 

The Department of Health warned that hospitals could suffer staffing shortages because a new outbreak is sweeping through New Jersey and many workers are deciding it is time to retire or change professions.

Many hospitals reportedly have staff working on triple backup: filling in for sick colleagues, those who would normally substitute and the substitute’s substitute.

At least 1,375 U.S. health-care workers have died from COVID-19.

The entire state of Iowa is now out of staffed beds, according to Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of Iowa.

Perencevich said things will get worse soon because Iowa is accumulating more than 3,600 confirmed cases every day.

President Trump is falsely claiming victory over the virus that proliferated because of his incompetence, but he is unlikely to do anything to restrain it during the end of his presidency.

He’s too busy plotting a coup d’état to stay in power to concern himself with the lives of his constituents.

As the new administration plans to take over without resources or the cooperation of the government it will replace, people are dying but sights remain set on operating within the bounds of a system designed for stable times.

You are witness to this tragic train wreck as it happens in real time but there is little hope for alterations in the near future.


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