COVID-19 hospitalizations pass 100K in US and could double soon; experts fear weary staff will be ‘overrun’ by patients

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients nationwide passed the 100,000 mark Wednesday, an alarming statistic fueling enormous strain on the health care system and its brave but beleaguered workers.

Some experts said the total, compiled by the COVID Tracking Project and at 100,226 Wednesday night, could soon double. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, said the country has reached a “dangerous inflection point.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we stand at 200,000 people hospitalized in the next month,” Glatter told USA TODAY. “Explosive growth of the virus has the potential to overrun our ability to provide care. Not only for patients with COVID-19 but also for basic medical conditions.”

Many hospitals will be forced to suspend elective surgeries and other routine operations, set up temporary field hospitals and stretch staff to the limit, experts said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said intensive care beds across the nation’s most-populous state could be full by mid-December. He warned that “drastic action,” including tightened stay-at-home orders, could come within days.

Little Rhode Island has a big problem, too. The state’s Emergency Alert System issued this message to residents this week: “RIGOV COVID ALERT: Hospitals at capacity due to COVID. Help the frontline by staying home as much as possible for the next two weeks. Work remotely if you can, avoid social gatherings, get tested. If we all decrease our mobility, we will save lives.” The state established two temporary field hospitals with a capacity of almost 1,000 beds to meet the fast-rising demand.