The current wave of coronavirus hasn’t spared many parts of the World., and the Midwest is getting hit harder than ever before.
Hospitals in the region are beginning to run out of hospital beds to treat the overwhelming number of patients affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. “We’re looking at rising case counts again,” Dr. Steven McDonald, an emergency medicine physician at Columbia University, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “And it pains me to read the accounts of these doctors in the Midwest who are reliving the trauma that we lived here in New York. It boggles the mind the lesson one unlearned in the same year. I hope that we finally get it right this time.”
Hospital systems are strained in the Midwest. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
The issues facing hospital staffs — down to personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages — mirror what happened to the Northeast in the spring, when New York City was the epicenter of the virus and saw its health care system overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
At Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, one of the top health care institutions in the country, capacity is strained after more than 900 employees tested positive for the virus. In North Dakota, there is such a shortage of front line health care workers to keep up with the demand of COVID patients that the governor authorized that COVID-positive but asymptomatic employees can treat coronavirus patients.
A virus that won’t slow down
Although the Midwest has become the country’s latest hotspot, transmission of the coronavirus is accelerating in 45 U.S. states.
“The emergency room where I work is definitely becoming busier and busier,” McDonald said. “We’re by no means at the levels of critical patients that we were in March and April. But there is an uptick in volume.”
According to the New York Times, 17 states added more coronavirus cases “in the seven-day period that ended Sunday than in any other week of the pandemic.”
Coronavirus is hitting Middle America very hard. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
While South Dakota’s GOP Governor Kristi Noem has still refrained from enacting a statewide mandate, despite coronavirus running rampant in the Mount Rushmore State, other Midwestern states — including North Dakota, Iowa, and Montana — implemented more guidelines and restrictions.
“The lessons from March and April have gone relatively well-learned,” McDonald said. “Many hospitals have an action plan, including mine, should things hit that crisis level again. But I do want to emphasize that the control of that lies with the government, not with hospitals. And it involves shutting down for dining and et cetera.”
‘This is real’
Most states began rolling back their restrictions for businesses and allowed indoor dining. However, public health experts have warned that this is part of the reason why there is a surge in cases.
“It does seem silly to me to close schools and not close indoor dining,” McDonald said. “Indoor dining, gyms — these are things that have been linked to high levels of transmission. Emphasis on indoor dining which is three-fold higher than the next highest competitor there.”Though many businesses have struggled throughout the pandemic due to closures and restrictions, the virus isn’t going away any time soon, he stressed.