The number of U.S. COVID-19 hospital stays topped 100,000 for the first time, as California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday said he would likely place home orders in all regions of the state except the San Francisco Bay Area later this week.
California’s new policy will take effect in one of five designated geographic regions 48 hours after the intensive care unit at their local hospital has shrunk to 15% or less, Newsom told reporters on Thursday.
“If we do not act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom told reporters.
In the affected regions, bars, wineries, personal services and salons will be closed, while restaurants will be moved to takeout and delivery and retail capacity will be limited to 20%, says Newsom. The schools remain open.
It is one of the most restrictive of a series of government initiatives to curb the next wave of the disease, which threatens to take 3,000 lives a day in the United States over the next two months.
Globally, the number of deaths on Thursday from COVID-19 averaged 10,000 people every day over the past week, totaling 1.5 million lives lost since the pandemic began, according to Reuters.
At the same time, the US daily toll from COVID-19 reached its second highest level ever on Wednesday with 2,811 lives lost, according to a Reuters speech, one shorter than the record on April 15.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Wednesday warned that December, January and February were likely to be “the most difficult time in the nation’s public health history.”
The United States could begin to lose about 3,000 people – about the number who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks – every day for the next two months.
“Before we see February, we could be close to 450,000 Americans who have died from this virus,” Redfield said.
The US death toll since the pandemic began is about 273,000.
Hope on the horizon
Hospitals across the United States extend to their borders and push political leaders to impose restrictions like California’s to prevent healthcare from being overwhelmed.
In the Midwest, Gov. Mike DeWine said on Thursday that Ohio hospitals “not only remain in crisis but the crisis is getting worse,” as his state reported its fifth-highest pandemic. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday that she could extend a three-week “break” for certain private and economic activities in her state due to the burden on hospitals.
Vaccines offer a ray of hope, with two promising candidates ready to receive emergency use permits from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this month.
An FDA panel of external advisors will meet on December 10 to discuss whether to recommend emergency use of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine. US health officials predict that the first vaccinations may begin days or weeks later.
Speaking at a meeting with FedEx Corp. in Memphis, Vice President Mike Pence said the White House expects to ship vaccines within 24 hours of approval and then begin injecting within 24 hours.
Moderna Inc’s vaccine is expected to be reviewed on 17 December. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be very effective in preventing disease in large clinical trials. Several other COVID-19 vaccines are also in later stages of development.
However, vaccinations face opposition from a large number of Americans who reject medical science, as well as from those who are cautious about the safety of vaccines that have developed at a record rate.
In a Gallup poll released on November 17, 58% of Americans found that they would receive a COVID-19 vaccine, an increase from 50% in September. It is still not enough, experts say, to achieve widespread immunity.
In addition, many Americans still refuse to follow even basic public health guidelines such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
Former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have voluntarily taken their COVID-19 shots on television to promote their security, according to Bush and Clinton assistants and an Obama interview on Sirius XM radio.
“I can stop taking it on TV or have it filmed, just so people know I trust this science,” Obama said in the interview, which aired Thursday.
At least one former skeptic said she and her husband would take the vaccine, given the increase in infections and her high blood pressure and age, which increases the risk of serious illness.
“I did not think I would say this, but right now, yes, I would definitely do it,” said Nina Lyons, 65, a retiree living in Pittsburgh. “I trust it. And if there are consequences along the line, I will say that it is worth taking that risk. ”