U.S. Breaks Records for COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Carolyn Crist

December 01, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

More people are hospitalized with COVID-19 across the country right now than ever before during the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

More than 93,000 people were hospitalized as of Sunday, marking the highest day so far after breaking records Saturday with 91,665 patients and Thursday with 90,443 patients.

"Hospitalizations have gone up every day since Oct. 25 except for [Friday], and [Friday's] decrease was probably related to holiday data reported on a one-day delay," the group wrote on Twitter.

At the beginning of the pandemic, hospitalizations reached nearly 60,000 in April, then fell below 30,000 by mid-June and climbed again to nearly 60,000 in late July. Hospitalizations dropped below 30,000 for a large portion of September but have been increasing ever since.

Regionally, hospitalizations seem to be increasing quickly in the Northeast, South and West, the group reported, with the Midwest possibly slowing. The number of hospitalized patients has shot up dramatically in several states, including California, where the number has nearly doubled from 4,000 on Nov. 12 to almost 8,000 on Monday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he may enact tougher restrictions this week, including a possible stay-at-home order, to counter the current surge that threatens to overwhelm hospitals. Current projections show that ICU admissions could exceed statewide capacity by mid-December unless new policies are enacted.

"If these trends continue, we're going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic action," Newsom said during a press briefing.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have also reached an all-time high in Ohio, with more than 5,000 people in the hospital on Monday. On Nov. 1, about 1,700 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized.

"There are a lot of concerns about ICU capacity … more hospitals are voicing concerns about their ability to manage this many ICU patients," Andy Thomas, MD, chief clinical officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said during a press briefing on Monday alongside Gov. Mike DeWine.

About one-third of ICU patients in Ohio have COVID-19, Thomas added, and one-third of patients on ventilators have COVID-19.

"COVID patients are going to start crowding out other people who need that level of care as these numbers continue to rise," he said. "The reality is that hospitals are making difficult decisions."

DeWine asked Ohioans to work from home, if possible, and to "pull back" on activities to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He also encouraged those who traveled for Thanksgiving to quarantine once they return to Ohio.

"There is a cause and effect to what we do. We can slow this down," DeWine said. "The scariest thing is that there is no indication that we have plateaued. We haven't seen anything like this for 100 years."

Sources

COVID Tracking Project, "National Data: Hospitalization."

COVID Tracking Project, "Twitter post, 7:04 p.m. on November 28, 2020."

Office of the Governor of California, "CA COVID-19 Update, Nov. 30, 2020 at 3:25 p.m."

The Ohio Channel, "November 20, 2020 #COVID-19 Update with Governor Mike DeWine."

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