Hospitals and Healthcare Workers Brace for Influx of COVID Patients

Coronavirus infections, while at record-high levels, have decreased during the past week, unlike hospitalizations, which are still surging. Public health experts expect it to get a lot worse due to the Thanksgiving holiday travel.

December 3, 2020, 12:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid


Ambulance

eddtoro / Shutterstock

Public health experts are expecting to see a surge of new coronavirus infections followed by an additional surge of hospitalizations resulting from Thanksgiving travel that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised against doing. 

"The nation averaged just over 161,000 coronavirus cases during the past week, an increase of 2 percent from the average two weeks earlier," according to The New York Times coronavirus tracker on December 2, although the Thanksgiving holiday likely led to some underreporting. During the last week, daily new cases declined by 8%, resulting in a case incidence rate in the U.S overall of 50 per 100,000 residents based on a 7-day rolling average, according to The Washington Post tracker.

Of course, the incidence varies by geography, with South Dakota averaging 100 new cases per 100k, the nation's highest, and Hawaii the lowest at 6 per 100k. Seven states, led by Tennessee, saw a double-digit percentage increase in daily cases in the last week, while 26 states, led by North Dakota, saw a double-digit percentage decline during the last seven days, according to the Post's tracker.

Hospitalizations are at an all-time high, almost 99,000 on the first day of December, according to the Times tracker, an increase of 32% from two weeks ago. The previous peaks of just below 60,000 occurred in mid-April during the spring surge in the Northeast and late July during the summer surge in the South and West, shown on this graph by the COVID Tracking Project.

Hospitalizations are surging by at least 10% in 29 states, led by Delaware with a 49% increase from last week, according to the Post tracker on Dec. 2. Only Iowa saw a decrease greater than 10%. 

Northeast hospitals hit hard

"Hospitalizations in the most densely populated region of the U.S. are up 63% in the past 14 days to 14,071, the most alarming momentum in the nation, according to Covid Tracking Project data," report Jonathan Levin and Keshia Clukey for Bloomberg News on Dec. 1 (source article).

Patients hospitalized with Covid-19 have increased by 79% and 80% each in New York and Pennsylvania, respectively, in the past two weeks and even more in the less-populous states of Maine and New Hampshire. Per capita hospitalizations are still much higher in many Midwest states, where they have just recently begun to decline from all-time highs.

Levin and Clukey note that "the Thanksgiving holiday led to a temporary distortion in case and death statistics" in the form of underreporting, which has led to more of a focus on hospitalization data.

According to the Covid Act Now database on Dec. 2, three states: Oklahoma, New Jersey, and New Mexico have used 100% of their intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, with Tennessee, South Dakota, and Georgia not far behind.

Related in Planetizen:

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 in Bloomberg News

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

San Francisco Houses

‘Mega-Landlords’ Threaten Housing Stability for Renters

As institutional investors buy up a larger share of single-family homes, the families renting them are increasingly vulnerable to rent increases and eviction.

May 15, 2022 - The Hill

Puente Hills Landfill as seen from the air

More Funds to Transform the Puente Hills Landfill into a Regional Park

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors just approved an additional $28 million to support the development of the Puente Hills Regional Park at the landfill site.

May 23 - Supervisor Hilda Solis

Denver, Colorado

Denver Freeway Widening Plans on Hold

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s plan to widen the Interstate 25 freeway through Denver is one of a few plans to widen urban freeways under consideration in the United States.

May 23 - The Colorado Sun

Fringe Development

Public Perceptions of Sprawl and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Urban density has a bad reputation.

May 23 - Greater Greater Washington

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.