There are at least 2,816 cases of the coronavirus in the United States, according to the state and local health agencies, governments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as a total of 58 patients have died, so far.
West Virginia is the only state not reporting a case of coronavirus.
US hospitals, gearing up for a large surge in patients as the coronavirus spreads throughout the country, are reaching out to temporary staff agencies and exploring other ways to maintain workforce levels as school closures add to pressure on doctors and nurses.
“The biggest issue right now is we need to plan for a logarithmic increase in patient numbers,” Dr. Jason Persoff, Assistant Director of Emergency Preparedness at UCHealth, Colorado’s largest health system, stated.
“We are learning a lot from what happened in Washington State and in Italy … there are a lot of issues with childcare,” he said, adding that UCHealth is preparing for as many as 20 percent of its regular staff not being able to work at one time or another throughout the outbreak – the ultimate dimensions of which remain unknown.
US hospitals have been advised by some statisticians to expect as many as 96 million coronavirus cases in the next few months.
Washington, with more than 40 fatalities, is the worst-hit state in the United States, and Life Care Center in Kirkland, with several fatalities, has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Washington state health officials are fighting the new coronavirus on two fronts — containment, while trying to ensure hospitals can care for people who become sick, and to date, they have not received the equipment they need, officials declared.
“We’re still working on slowing the spread, but also trying to plan on how to expand beyond the walls of our current health care system,” Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington State Health Officer stated.
The increase in people visiting clinics with respiratory symptoms is straining the states supply of personal protective gear worn by health care workers, officials noted.
Citing the CDC, The New York Times has reported that as many as 1.7 million people across the US could die as a result of the coronavirus.
An article in the newspaper suggested on Friday that between 160 million and 214 million people in the US could be infected from the epidemic and as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die in a worst-case scenario.
At a time when US fatalities from the sickness have risen, there remain limited numbers of tests and the capacity of laboratories is under strain. The furor has been growing, as US public health experts, politicians — and anxious people seeking tests — have grown increasingly alarmed about the lack of testing across the country.
Many Americans who are sick and seeking a coronavirus test continue to be turned away, creating a vexing problem for patients and health officials as the virus spreads, according to a report by The Washington Post.
The problem persists, doctors and patients across the country say, despite increased production and distribution of the tests in recent days.
The number of medical professionals and patients who are denied access to tests is not tracked nationally. But in interviews, people from several states stated that their doctors sought but were unable to get testing approval from local or state health officials.
Amid criticism about the availability of coronavirus test kits in the US, compared to other countries, like China and South Korea, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases admitted the country is “failing”.
“The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Thursday, adding, “That is a failing. It is a failing. Let’s admit it.”
On Wednesday, Fauci, a member of the US president’s task force on coronavirus, testified in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee in Washington DC about the current state of the outbreak in the United States, warning that the coronavirus situation in the United States is “going to get worse”.
On Friday, the administration of President Donald Trump — under fire for the slow US testing response — declared a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus even as he refused to take personal responsibility for administration failures early in the outbreak.
Globally, nearly 5,800 people have died from the coronavirus and in excess of 145,000 cases have been confirmed in 145 countries, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the virus a “pandemic”, while Europe has become the epicenter of the outbreak.