COVID-19 surge: America is at a breaking point

 

The United States notched a record number of coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the third day running as the pandemic tightens its grip on the world's hardest hit country.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed the United States - which has seen a dramatic virus resurgence in recent weeks - reached nearly 230,000 new infections and 2527 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday alone.

More than 280,000 people have died in the US since the first death linked to the virus in early February.

But as health workers brace for a devastating season of COVID-19, some fear the worst is still yet to come.

"I think we're past the breaking point," Dr Adolphe Edward, CEO of El Centro Regional Medical Center in Southern California told CNN.

"The staff is here, but they're broken."

On Thursday the hospital had just two beds remaining before its intensive care unit hit capacity.

A field hospital has been constructed with 50 beds in the parking lot - a scene that looks more at home in war-torn Baghdad.

"I might really be back in a war zone," the veteran said. "We're at war against (COVID-19)."

 

For two weeks, the US has regularly topped 2000 deaths per day, as it had in the spring at the height of the first wave of the country's outbreak.

US health officials warned of a surge after tens of millions of Americans ignored medical advice and travelled to celebrate last week's thanksgiving holiday despite pleas from authorities to stay home.

 

US President Donald Trump appeared at a rally for the first time since votes were cast in the US election, attracting a huge crowd in Georgia as the country continued to record hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus cases every day.

In Georgia, close to 5000 new cases were recorded on the same day a huge crowd of Trump supporters attended a rally in the state.

 

Parts of the US have also gone back into lockdown, with California enforcing new restrictions from Sunday evening in 11 counties amid fears a surge in cases could overwhelm hospitals, which were down to 12.5 per cent capacity in intensive care units.

 

That's the plan at least, but in some areas police have said they won't enforce the rules.

"Compliance with health orders is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement," Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement.

"Orange County Sheriff's deputies will not be dispatched to, or respond to, calls for service to enforce compliance with face coverings, social gatherings, or stay-at-home orders only."

"These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat out ridiculous," Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said on Friday.

A seemingly exasperated US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to remind people of the relatively simple steps they could take to slow the spread of the virus.

"If we don't act together and do what we can to slow the spread, thousands more could die," the agency warned on Twitter.

The director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, warned Wednesday that December, January and February were going to be "rough".

"I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that's going to put on our health care system," he said.

- with AFP.

Originally published as America is at a breaking point


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