Tag: hospitals

 

Surge in coronavirus cases puts strain on Wisconsin hospitals

Health experts are warning the months ahead will be some of the hardest of the coronavirus pandemic. It comes as the U.S. climbs towards a third peak, and nowhere is it more true than in Wisconsin, which has emerged as the country’s hot spot. The state is setting records for new cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

At UW Hospital in Madison, COVID-19 hospitalizations have almost doubled since the start of October. Nurse Katie Lanoway said it happened almost overnight.

“I’m really frustrated. It is scary because you don’t want to take that home to people you care about,” Lanoway told CBS News. “We really need help here in the hospital from people outside, to start wearing the mask and staying away from people.”

One COVID-19 unit used to be limited to one hallway, which has about 10 patient rooms, and now they’ve had to expand to three hallways because of the surge.

Dr. Jeff Pothoff, UW Health’s chief quality officer, works on a medivac team that has airlifted several coronavirus patients. “They thought they were going to be OK, and then all of a sudden, they end up here. There’s some regret,” Pothoff said. “At that point, it’s too late. There isn’t a do-over.”

With COVID-19 cases now surging across the nation, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Americans to brace themselves. “We have two or three very hard months ahead of us,” said Gottlieb. “I think this is probably going to be the hardest phase of this pandemic.”

A new peak is hitting one Utah health system especially hard. Over the weekend, ICU beds reached over 100% capacity.

“This is as serious as it gets. We have had to turn away transfers, people in other states,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief of medical operations at the University of Utah Health.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is facing a second wave, with more than 500 new cases a day. “We are increasingly seeing large gatherings of unmasked young people,” said Lightfoot. “Folks, that has to stop.”

But there is some encouraging news at New York City schools. Of the more than 16,000 tests for the coronavirus, just 28 came back positive: 20 staff members and eight students.

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Rural Midwest hospitals struggling to handle coronavirus surge: “It just exploded”

Rural Jerauld County in South Dakota didn’t see a single case of the coronavirus for more than two months stretching from June to August. But over the last two weeks, its rate of new cases per person soared to one of the highest in the nation.

“All of a sudden it hit, and as it does, it just exploded,” said Dr. Tom Dean, one of just three doctors who work in the county.

Virus Outbreak Rural Spread
Dr. Tom Dean poses at his clinic in Wessington Springs, S.D., on Friday. Oct. 16, 2020.

Stephen Groves / AP


As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections.

Dean took to writing a column in the local weekly newspaper, the True Dakotan, to offer his guidance. In recent weeks, he’s watched as one in roughly every 37 people in his county has tested positive for the virus.

It ripped through the nursing home in Wessington Springs where both his parents lived, killing his father. The community’s six deaths may appear minimal compared with thousands who have died in cities, but they have propelled the county of about 2,000 people to a death rate roughly four times higher than the nationwide rate.

Rural counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana sit among the top in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. Overall, the nation topped 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the university’s count on Friday; the true number of infections is believed to be much higher because many people have not been tested.

In counties with just a few thousand people, the number of cases per capita can soar with even a small outbreak – and the toll hits close to home in tight-knit towns.

“One or two people with infections can really cause a large impact when you have one grocery store or gas station,” said Misty Rudebusch, the medical director at a network of rural health clinics in South Dakota called Horizon Health Care. “There is such a ripple effect.”

Wessington Springs is a hub for the generations of farmers and ranchers that work the surrounding land. Residents send their children to the same schoolhouse they attended and have preserved cultural offerings like a Shakespeare garden and opera house.

They trust Dean, who for 42 years has tended to everything from broken bones to high blood pressure. When a patient needs a higher level of care, the family physician usually depends on a transfer to a hospital 130 miles (209 kilometers) away.

As cases surge, hospitals in rural communities are having trouble finding beds. A

Restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended into November, outbreak hits three Ontario hospitals

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Canada-U.S.border restrictions extended

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, announced Monday the non-essential travel restrictions between the Canada-U.S. border will remain until Nov. 21.

“Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” Blair’s tweet reads.

Traditional trick-or-treating not recommended in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, issued a statement on Monday indicating that “traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended” in cities in modified Stage 2 restrictions – Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York Region.

In the statement, Dr. Williams states this is due to the “high transmission” of COVID-19 in these areas.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommends “alternative” was to celebrate Halloween in these regions, which include:

  • Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties

  • Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household

  • Carving pumpkins

  • Having a movie night or sharing scary stories

  • Decorating front lawns

“It is recommended that you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place,” the statement reads. “It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.”

In order to have a “safe and happy Halloween” in Ontario, Dr. Williams stressed that Ontarios need to avoid gathering with people outside of their household, stay home if feeling at all ill.

For people living outside of the modified Stage 2 regions, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health outlined a number of rules to follow for trick-or-treating.

  • Only go out with members of your household

  • Only trick or treat outside

  • Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering and a costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering but also should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe

  • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting

  • Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects

  • Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer

  • Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or similar tools to hand out treats

CASES AND OUTBREAKS

Three Toronto hospitals report COVID-19 outbreak

Three Toronto hospitals are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks as confirmed cases in the city continue to rise.

UHN has confirmed that as of Oct. 16,

South Korea tests at hospitals, nursing homes

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Monday began testing tens of thousands of employees of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at live-in facilities.

Fifteen of the 76 latest cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency were from the southern port city of Busan, where more than 70 infections have been linked to a hospital for the elderly.

The disease caused by the coronavirus can be more serious in older people and those with existing health conditions like high-blood pressure.

Health workers have been scrambling to track infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people, as the virus spreads in a variety of places, including hospitals, churches, schools and workplaces.

From Monday, they will start a process to test 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers in the greater capital area. Officials will also test 30,000 patients who have visited and used these facilities, but will leave out hospitalized patients, who already receive tests when they are admitted.


Officials plan to complete the tests within October and could possibly expand the screening to other regions if needed.

South Korea has confirmed 25,275 cases of coronavirus infection, including 444 deaths from COVID-19.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

— India has reported 579 fatalities from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the lowest increase in three months, driving its death toll to 114,610. The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 55,722 more people infected, raising India’s total to more than 7.5 million. A government-appointed committee of scientists said Sunday the disease was likely to “run its course” by February if people used masks and adhered to distancing measures. The number of new infections confirmed each day has declined for a month. The committee said even if active cases increased during the upcoming festive season and cold weather, they were unlikely to surpass India’s record daily high of 97,894 cases.

— China’s economic growth accelerated to 4.9% over a year earlier in the latest quarter as a shaky recovery from the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength. China, where virus outbreaks began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth with a 3.2% expansion in the quarter ending in June. Output contracted 6.8% in the first quarter. The ruling Communist Party began easing anti-disease controls and reopening factories, shops and offices in March after declaring the virus under control but has kept monitoring and some travel controls in place.

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Asia Today: South Korea testing at hospitals, nursing homes

South Korea is testing tens of thousands of employees of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at live-in facilities

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea on Monday began testing tens of thousands of employees of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at live-in facilities.

Fifteen of the 76 latest cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency were from the southern port city of Busan, where more than 70 infections have been linked to a hospital for the elderly.

Health workers have been scrambling to track infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people, as the virus spreads in a variety of places, including hospitals, churches, schools and workplaces.

From Monday, they will start a process to test 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior centers in the greater capital area. Officials will also test 30,000 patients who have visited and used these facilities, but will leave out hospitalized patients, who already receive tests when they are admitted.

Officials plan to complete the tests within October and could possibly expand the screening to other regions if needed.

South Korea has confirmed 25,275 cases of coronavirus infection, including 444 deaths from COVID-19.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

— China’s economic growth accelerated to 4.9% over a year earlier in the latest quarter as a shaky recovery from the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength. China, where virus outbreaks began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth with a 3.2% expansion in the quarter ending in June. Output contracted 6.8% in the first quarter. The ruling Communist Party began easing anti-disease controls and reopening factories, shops and offices in March after declaring the virus under control but has kept monitoring and some travel controls in place.

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Appeals court upholds Kentucky abortion law requiring clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a Kentucky law that requires abortion clinics to have written agreements with a hospital and ambulance service in case of medical emergencies.

The 2-1 ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a 2018 district court ruling that found the law, first passed in 1998, violated constitutionally protected due process rights.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center first challenged the law in 2017 after a licensing fight with then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R). EMW was the only clinic that provided abortions at the time, and Bevin claimed that it lacked proper transfer agreements and took steps to shut it down.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky joined the suit later on, claiming that Bevin had used these transfer agreements to block its request for a license to provide abortions. After Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear took office in 2019, the two clinics were allowed to provide abortions.

The court wrote that the “district court erred in concluding that Kentucky would be left without an abortion facility,” according to The Associated Press, and dismissed the clinics’ argument that they were at risk of closing. It further said that the law allows clinics to apply for a 90-day waiver if they are denied a licensing agreement, which they could theoretically reapply for and continue to operate.

“(We) must presume that the Inspector General will consider waiver applications in good faith and will not act ‘simply to make it more difficult for (women) to obtain an abortion,’” the ruling read.

In his dissenting opinion, Judge Eric Clay wrote that it “condones the evisceration of the constitutional right to abortion access in Kentucky.”

“At the end of the day, no matter what standard this Court is bound to apply, the majority’s decision today is terribly and tragically wrong,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which represented the clinics, said in a statement that Kentucky’s law means abortion providers have to navigate “needless red tape every 90 days” and warned that the state could be the first without any abortion providers if the governor refuses to grant the waiver.

“This is what it looks like when politicians chip away at protections under Roe — pushing medically unnecessary laws that jeopardize abortion access without ever overturning Roe,” Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

“It must be stated that we are in a dangerous moment for abortion rights and what this moment calls for is leadership to put all people before politics and do what’s necessary to ensure every person has access to the care they need and deserve,” Charbonneau added.

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Rural hospitals in Midwest face viral surge

WESSINGTON SPRINGS, S.D. — Rural parts of the American Midwest that had previously escaped the worst of the coronavirus are now seeing a surge — and hospitals are struggling to keep up.

Counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana sit among the top in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. In counties with just a few thousand people, the number of cases per capita can soar with even a small outbreak — and the toll hits close to home in tight-knit towns.

As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections.

Even as outbreaks threaten to spiral out of control, doctors and health officials said they are struggling to convince people of the seriousness of a virus that took months to arrive in force.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Britain’s Space Agency is backing a medical drone delivery service that aims to move virus samples, test kits and protective equipment between hospitals.

— A spike in cases in Europe deals a bitter blow to the economy.

— In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of “difficult months” ahead as the nation posted another daily record of new cases Saturday.

— Iran announces its virus death toll has reached 30,000.

— AP PHOTOS: India holds digital fashion week amid pandemic.

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— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ROME — The Vatican says someone who lives in the same Vatican hotel as Pope Francis has tested positive for coronavirus, adding to the 11 cases of COVID-19 among the Swiss Guards who protect him.

The Vatican said Saturday that the resident of the Domus Sanctae Marthae has moved out temporarily and is in isolation, as are all the people who came into direct contact with him.

The hotel serves as a residence for Vatican-based priests as well as visiting clerics and lay people. Francis chose to live there permanently after his 2013 election, shunning the Apostolic Palace, because he said he needed to be around ordinary people. The hotel has a communal dining room and chapel where Francis celebrates Mass each morning.

The Vatican, a tiny city state in the center of Rome, has beefed up its anti-COVID-19 measures amid a resurgence of the outbreak in Italy. Protective masks are required indoors and out, but Francis has largely shunned them even when holding audiences with the public.

At 83 and with part of a lung removed when he was in his 20s due to illness, the pope would be at

Rural Midwest hospitals struggling to handle virus surge

WESSINGTON SPRINGS, S.D. (AP) — Rural Jerauld County in South Dakota didn’t see a single case of the coronavirus for more than two months stretching from June to August. But over the last two weeks, its rate of new cases per person soared to one of the highest in the nation.

“All of a sudden it hit, and as it does, it just exploded,” said Dr. Tom Dean, one of just three doctors who work in the county.

As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections.

Dean took to writing a column in the local weekly newspaper, the True Dakotan, to offer his guidance. In recent weeks, he’s watched as one in roughly every 37 people in his county has tested positive for the virus.


It ripped through the nursing home in Wessington Springs where both his parents lived, killing his father. The community’s six deaths may appear minimal compared with thousands who have died in cities, but they have propelled the county of about 2,000 people to a death rate roughly four times higher than the nationwide rate.

Rural counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana sit among the top in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. In counties with just a few thousand people, the number of cases per capita can soar with even a small outbreak — and the toll hits close to home in tight-knit towns.

“One or two people with infections can really cause a large impact when you have one grocery store or gas station,” said Misty Rudebusch, the medical director at a network of rural health clinics in South Dakota called Horizon Health Care. “There is such a ripple effect.”

Wessington Springs is a hub for the generations of farmers and ranchers that work the surrounding land. Residents send their children to the same schoolhouse they attended and have preserved cultural offerings like a Shakespeare garden and opera house.

They trust Dean, who for 42 years has tended to everything from broken bones to high blood pressure. When a patient needs a higher level of care, the family physician usually depends on a transfer to a hospital 130 miles (209 kilometers) away.

As cases surge, hospitals in rural communities are having trouble finding beds. A recent request to transfer a “not desperately ill, but pretty” sick COVID-19 patient was denied for several days, until the patient’s condition had worsened, Dean said.

“We’re proud of what we got, but it’s been a struggle,” he said of the 16-bed hospital.

The outbreak that killed Dean’s dad

Kansas City hospitals overwhelmed, some forced to turn away ambulances as COVID-19 cases jump

Hospitals in and around Kansas City, Missouri, are overwhelmed amid a troubling spike in COVID-19 cases that has forced some facilitates to refuse non-emergency care and others to turn away ambulances due to over-occupancy.

Average daily COVID-19 hospitalizations were up about 10% this week across the Kansas City region as the Midwest grapples with record-breaking daily infection rates and intensive care unit bed shortages, according to the Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard.

Earlier this week, the Kansas City metro area saw its highest number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations on record with the seven-day average rising to about 133. Separately, hospitals in the area reported a 28% increase in the average number of patients on ventilators, week-over-week, while daily ICU occupancy rose about 11% from last week, according to the dashboard.

All in all, total weekly hospitalizations jumped to 867, compared to 835 last week, pushing several area hospitals to refuse ambulances due to lack of beds.

Marc Larsen, operations director of Saint Luke’s COVID Response Team, the second-largest care provider in the region, said Kansas City area hospitals are “bursting at the seams.”

Hospitals being ‘pushed to the brink’

Saint Luke’s daily patient average rose to about 85 for the month of October, compared to about 63 per day in September, Larsen said. The system reported a daily patient average of only about 15 COVID-19 patients a day in May and June.

“The current trajectory and the rapid increase in infections is a big concern for me,” Larsen told ABC News in an interview Friday. “And with our numbers where they are coming into influenza season, I worry that the facilities will continue to be pushed to the brink on our ability to care for each and every single one of these patients like we need to.”

He added, “As a result, our emergency departments and having to leverage alternative care units in our facilities, meaning that we wind up seeing emergency department patients in our pre-anesthesia care units, recovery rooms and sometimes in waiting rooms.”

PHOTO: Fans take in a flyover before the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 11, 2020.

Fans take in a flyover before the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 11, 2020.

Larsen, who is also an emergency care physician at the downtown Kansas City hospital, said at least eight metro hospitals and emergency departments had to temporarily stop accepting ambulances due to the high volume of patients on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We had eight facilities at one given time that were on ‘diversion,’ or what we call high-volume status,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t still take the time-critical diagnoses — we still take our stroke patients, our trauma patients and our heart attack patients — but it does limit our ability to provide care to the remainder of ambulances.”

“When we get to that volume and when we get to that

Hospitals search for enough beds and nurses as virus rebounds

The University of Utah Health System, one of the largest hospitals in the state, reported its ICU is 95 percent filled, and health systems in other parts of the country have been forced to relocate patients because of bed and staffing shortages.

Herbert said the National Guard is on standby to build a field hospital in a convention center outside Salt Lake City, and on Tuesday he ordered masks be worn at all outdoor events.

The pandemic is spawning new infections at a rate not seen since the end of July. Hot spots began to cluster in parts of Utah, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Missouri, Mississippi and North Dakota as the nationwide average number of daily new cases surged over the past month.

In Indiana, the state is facing “critical ICU bed shortages along with personnel shortages” according to Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver, only three weeks after Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb removed most Covid-related restrictions. Officials have put out a call for volunteers to help fill staffing shortages in hard-hit facilities near the Michigan and Kentucky borders.

Indiana has fewer than one-third of its ICU beds available, according to its health department, and there are more than 1,300 patients in the hospital, the most since May and up 67 percent in three weeks.

“This is especially concerning, because we have not begun to see the typical increase in ICU bed usage from influenza,” Weaver said.

Colder weather pushing more people to gather indoors appears to be driving the latest surge more than school reopenings, according to public health experts. Other areas could soon face similar dilemmas, with U.S. hospitalizations at their highest point since the end of August, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

And the phenomenon isn’t confined to the U.S.: The single-day jump in cases worldwide surpassed 350,000 for the first time on Oct. 9.

Wisconsin, where President Donald Trump plans to hold a rally on Saturday, opened a field hospital on its state fairgrounds in West Allis on Wednesday after officials said the health care system is in crisis.

“Many of our ICUs are strained,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, a deputy secretary with the state’s health department. “Every region of our state has one or more hospitals reporting current and imminent staff shortages.”

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration asked the Army Corps of Engineers to review plans for two more field hospitals.

The situation appears similarly dire in parts of Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

The area around El Paso, Texas, a city of nearly 700,000, has 10 remaining ICU beds, according to the state health department. On Monday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was sending 75 health workers, including nurses and respiratory therapists, to help respond.

Meanwhile, two out of three major hospitals in Albuquerque, N.M., are at, or exceeding, capacity. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced that restaurants and bars must close at 10 p.m. and gatherings of more than five would be prohibited.

“This is the most serious emergency