Hospitals are getting dangerously full in new coronavirus epicenters

Hospitals are getting dangerously full in new coronavirus epicenters
Staff Sgt. Gisele Adanlete-Engram, 161st Medical Squadron aerospace medical technician, puts on personal protection equipment before entering a COVID-19 hot zone at an alternate care facility on the Navajo Nation in Chinle, Ariz., June 1, 2020. Arizona National Guard service members are assisting the Public Health Service while caring for COVID-19 patients by providing security and other non-medical tasks as needed. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin)

Coronavirus is starting to overwhelm hospitals in the states that have become the new epicenters of the disease. Arizona and Nevada reported their highest levels of hospitalizations (so far) in recent days and, according to Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler, “If we don’t change this trajectory, then I am within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun.”

Donald Trump, who got us here, said over the weekend that “99%” of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.” Which would likely come as news not just to the more than 130,000 people who have died so far but to the people in those hospitals in danger of being “overrun.”

Trump’s claim about the total harmlessness of 99% of cases came in the middle of yet another complaint about how testing shows cases, which makes him look bad. “Likewise, testing—there were no tests for a new virus, but now we have tested over 40 million people,” he said. “But by so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless. Results that no other country will show, because no other country has testing that we have—not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality.”

He really thinks that if there were no tests the widespread sickness would not alert us to a problem. Even as hospitals fill in states he cares about, electorally speaking.

The good news, so far, is that the death rate is down from the earlier peak. That could change, as people now in hospitals may yet die, or as COVID-19 moves from the younger population currently being infected at high rates to their parents and grandparents. But testing, which Trump so dislikes, is one of the possible reasons for lower mortality rates now, as people get diagnosed and treated earlier. Treatment has also improved as doctors learn on the fly how to deal with this new disease. But even when people don’t die, their lives can be seriously affected after they leave the hospital or as they are miserably sick at home for as long as months. And when hospitals are overwhelmed—as some areas of Texas and Arizona and other states may be facing—that’s when the mortality rate rises.

We don’t know quite what’s to come, but we know two things for sure: there are major warning signs on the road ahead and Donald Trump is, once again, outrageously wrong when he claims that 99% of cases are totally harmless.

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