The number of COVID-19 cases is continuing to rise, but the rate of increase has significantly slowed to the lowest levels since early summer – a sign that the fourth wave is finally ebbing.
On Thursday, officials recorded 145,081 new cases of the virus with a seven-day rolling average of 150,356, a 21 percent increase from the average of 123,748 recorded in mid-August, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
This means that although the overall number has risen, the growth rate of new cases has significantly slowed.
The figure is a far cry from last month, when COVID-19 cases were surging by as much as 286 percent over a four-week period.
The pace of deaths has also fallen, even as the overall number increases.
A total of 1,926 virus-related fatalities were recorded on Thursday with a seven-day rolling average of 1,511, which is a 186 percent jump from the 528 average reported in mid-August.
This is a drop from the previous increase of 200 percent reported over a month-long period.
However, experts note that there are still more than 100,000 patients hospitalized with the virus and overrun hospitals in several states say they have had to ration care to deal with the surge.
On Thursday, the U.S. recorded 145,081 new cases of COVID-19 with a seven-day rolling average of 150,356, a 21% increase from the average of 123,748 recorded in mid-August, but the rate of increase has slowed to the lowest seen since early summer
A total of 1,926 virus-related deaths were recorded on Thursday with a seven-day rolling average of 1,511, which is a 186% jump from the 528 average reported in mid-August, but the pace has also slowed
More than 100,000 patients are still hospitalized and overrun hospitals in several states say they have had to ration care to deal with the surge
According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a total of 101,634 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across the country.
Of those patients, about a quarter – 25,646 – are in intensive care units (ICUs).
Hospitals in several states say they have had to ration care because they are trying to treat not just Covid patients but also those coming in for other ailments.
‘Before Covid, our ICUs were pretty busy,’ Dr Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence Health System in Seattle, told CNN.
‘It’s because people were having car accidents and heart attacks and needing complicated surgery and going to the ICU afterward.
‘And those people are being put on the back burner. So anything that’s even remotely elective, we’re canceling those cases.’
In West Virginia, a total of 813 patients are hospitalized with the virus, a figure just five less that the record-high, according to Gov Jim Justice.
Of those patients, 252 are in ICUs and 132 are on ventilators, both numbers of which are the highest single-day totals since the pandemic began.
The Mountain State has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with less than 40 percent of the population vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
‘Our hospitals are still overwhelmingly inundated with cases of people that are not vaccinated,’ Justice said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
‘Ninety percent of people in ICUs are unvaccinated. For God’s sake, how difficult is this to understand? What we should be doing is right there in front of us. We just need to use good sense and get ourselves vaccinated.’
At least two health systems, WVU Medicine and Uniontown Hospital, based on the state say they are canceling non-emergency surgeries to focus on the wave of hospitalized Covid patients.
In West Virginia, a total of 813 patients are hospitalized with the virus, and a record-high 252 are in ICUs and 132 are on ventilators, also a record-high
In Idaho, a record-high 613 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 164 of them in ICUs
Two Morgantown, West Virginia-based health systems are scaling back on nonemergency surgeries as the Mountain State deals with a surge in Covid-19 patients that has led to concerns about hospital capacity.
WVU Medicine, which has hospitals throughout West Virginia as well as Uniontown Hospital in Fayette County and others in Maryland and Ohio, is at a critical stage in both staffing and bed management.
‘We are also delaying many elective procedures/surgeries that require hospitalization,’ a WVU Medicine spokesman said Thursday, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.
In Idaho, a record-high 613 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 164 of them in ICUs, according to HHS data.
Similarly to West Virginia, fewer than 40 percent of Idahoans are fully vaccinated against the virus, CDC figures reveal.
The surge led the Department of Health and Welfare to activate its Crisis Standards of Care in the northern part of the state on Tuesday.
This means that hospitals are so overrun with coronavirus patients that doctors and nurses are allowed to ration health care.
‘We’re at risk of getting more patients,’ said Dr Robert Scoggins, chief of staff at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene – near the Idaho-Washington border, during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
‘There’s no mitigation in place in our school systems at this point, and I’m concerned about what’s going to happen…and how that will affect the care of Covid patients and non-Covid patients.’
In Tennessee, a record-high number of COVID-19 patients are hospitalized at 3,707 with nearly 1,000 of those patients in ICUs
Tennessee is yet another state reporting a record-high number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with 3,707, HHS data reveal.
Nearly 1,000 of those patients are in ICUs and 44 percent of all ICU beds in the state are occupied by those infected with the virus.
Only about 43 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
The surge is straining hospitals so badly that Governor Bill Lee deployed the National Guard to provide assistance where needed on Wednesday.
‘We’re currently in 20 hospitals across the state, and we have roughly 200 service members within those hospitals augmenting the staff,’ Joint Task Force Medical Commander Lt Col Justin Oland told WKRN.
‘We have medics, we have some nurses as well that are working, but they’re primarily medics we also have admin support and the admin support can do a wide range of patients care-type things under the supervision of a nurse.’