Wednesday was also the ninth straight day of new cases topping 100,000. The second highest number, 136,325, was reported Tuesday.
“There is continued, accelerating community spread across the top half of the country, where temperatures have cooled and Americans have moved indoors,” reports dated November 8 and distributed to states Tuesday evening said.
The task force, which warned of “significant deterioration in the Sunbelt” in last week’s set of reports, said that deterioration has only continued in the past week, “leading to the most diffuse spread experienced to date.”
All over the country, many hospitals are already at their breaking point, with overwhelmed and overworked staff members and a continuing surge of patients.
“The public urgently needs to treat Covid-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed,” the health system said in a statement Wednesday.
Wisconsin’s Health Department just created the “critically high” level that’s almost three times higher than the previous top level, it said Wednesday.
Wisconsin had its second straight day of more than 7,000 new cases Wednesday, the department said.
North Dakota hospitals are full
Hospitals in the state, which has no requirement to wear a mask, are at 100% capacity, Burgum said.
“Our hospitals are under enormous pressure now,” Burgum said. “We can see the future two, three weeks out, and we know that we have severe constraints.”
In Illinois, most regions are seeing “far higher rates” of Covid-19 hospitalizations than they did in the spring, the governor said Tuesday.
“Statewide, we are now averaging more than 4,200 patients with Covid-19 in the hospital. Our highest average in the spring was 4,822 … In short, we’re now just hundreds short of our Covid hospitalization numbers last spring,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
The surge is likely to continue. More people will be hospitalized in the coming weeks given that hospitalizations follow several weeks behind new infections, and Tuesday marked the eighth consecutive day that the US reported more than 100,000 new cases. Deaths, which have ticked up in the past week, are expected to then follow.
As case numbers explode, states are putting more measures in place to stem the spread. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said at a statewide address Wednesday that he will issue a new order that will “place significant new restrictions” on social gatherings such as weddings and funerals.
Texas surpasses 1 million total cases
The US has now recorded more than 10.39 million infections and almost a quarter of a million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 1,186 deaths were reported Wednesday.
As the virus continues running unabated across American communities, not a single state is trending in the right direction. And 44 states have reported at least 10% more new cases than the previous week — 11 of which reported at least a 50% increase.
This week, Texas became the first US state to surpass one million known Covid-19 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Similarly, the city of Lubbock, Texas, set up mobile medical tents to expand the hospital system’s capacity, the city said in a tweet.
California’s total number of infections is also inching closer to a million. More than 18,000 Californians have died since the start of the pandemic and infections, positivity rates and hospitalizations are all on the rise in the state, the governor said.
“People are letting their guard down by taking their masks off,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week. “They’re starting to get together, outside of their household cohorts.”
Oklahoma’s health department reported the state is down to just 7% of adult ICU bed availability, with about 62 ICU beds available.
Hospitals statewide asked for help in a “couple of ways,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Tuesday.
“One was to reactivate a system called the Regional Medical Response System,” he said. “This system is used in tornadoes or large disasters. It is designed to transfer patients between hospitals. This makes sure Oklahomans are connected to a hospital bed as quickly as possible.”
New treatment and early vaccine data
The US also received some good news this week.
In addition, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that Moderna’s vaccine could soon follow suit. Pfizer’s vaccine uses a messenger RNA, or mRNA, platform to produce an immune response, and Moderna’s vaccine does, too.
“Moderna has an almost identical mRNA,” Fauci told Financial Times correspondent Hannah Kuchler. “We hope we’re going to see a similar kind of result from Moderna. If we do, then we’ll have two vaccines in play.”
Distribution of the newly approved treatment will begin this week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, adding it will be provided free of charge.
“Getting new therapeutics like this to patients has the potential to save thousands of lives and significantly reduce the disease’s burden on our health care system,” Azar said.
This is the first monoclonal antibody to be authorized for use in treating the virus. And it’s also an important first step in developing treatments that will help prevent people from being hospitalized with Covid-19, Fauci said Tuesday.
The treatment is “just one of a number of things that we’re doing to look at the disease early on and prevent people from being hospitalized,” he told MSNBC.
Doctors express concerns on rollout plans
Still, some doctors have serious reservations about the Trump administration’s Covid-19 antibody treatment rollout. Doctors from Harvard shared their concerns in an editorial published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The editorial focuses on Regeneron’s treatment, which has not yet been given an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
Dr. Robert Goldstein, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, said he believes Regeneron should get the nod soon, and what he knows about the rollout plans for its treatment and Eli Lilly’s treatment could put a serious strain on the system and potentially worsen inequities in treatment.
Goldstein said doctors still don’t have a lot of detail about which patients best benefit from the treatments. Much of what doctors know comes from news releases.
“We don’t like to practice medicine by press release,” Goldstein told CNN. News releases may reassure investors, Goldstein said, but they leave doctors with too many questions about who to treat — especially in cases like this one, when treatments are in such limited supply.
Goldstein is also concerned about the way the antibody treatments need to be administered. They’re infused and must be given in a health care office that has the space for someone to be infused for an hour and then observed for another hour. Many safety net and rural health care systems do not have this kind of capacity, he said.
CNN’s Andy Rose, Joe Sutton, Gisela Crespo, Lauren Mascarenhas, Jen Christensen, Sarah Moon, Leanna Faulk, Raja Razek, Betsy Klein, Kay Jones and Brad Park contributed to this report.