United States hospitals bursting at the seams

Published: May 16, 2020, 10:32 IST | Agencies | Silver Spring

Front-line health workers in COVID-19 hot spots are struggling to keep up with a crushing load of patients while many states are lifting restrictions

At a hospital in New Mexico, at least 32 workers have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus and its ICU is at capacity. Pic /AFP
At a hospital in New Mexico, at least 32 workers have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus and its ICU is at capacity. Pic /AFP

From a hospital on the edge of the Navajo Nation to the suburbs of the nation's capital, front-line medical workers in novel Coronavirus hot spots are struggling to keep up with a crushing load of patients while lockdown restrictions are lifting in many other parts of the US. Governors are starting to slowly reopen some segments of their local economies, pointing to evidence that COVID-19 deaths and new hospitalisations are peaking or starting to recede in their states. But a government whistleblower warned on Thursday that the US faces its "darkest winter in modern history" unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the virus.

Coronavirus outbreaks are testing public health networks in pockets of the US. Among them is a suburb of Washington, DC. The head of a hospital system in Maryland's Prince George's County said the area's ICUs "are bursting at the seams." Meanwhile, a civil rights group's lawsuit claimed the county's jail failed to stop an "uncontrolled" outbreak and isolated infected prisoners in cells with walls covered in feces, mucus and blood.

The hospital in Gallup, New Mexico, is on the front lines of a grinding outbreak on the Navajo Nation that recently prompted a 10-day lockdown. About 17 nurses of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital were cut from the workforce in March, at least 32 workers have tested positive for the virus and its ICU is at capacity.

Meanwhile, Rick Bright, a vaccine expert who alleges he was ousted from a high-level scientific post after warning the government to prepare for the pandemic, told a congressional panel the US lacks a plan to produce and fairly distribute a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

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