Three days before Christmas, Britain sealed off the capital to prevent the rapidly spreading nCoV. The US is facing a shortage of emergency hospital beds. Theresa Pirozzi’s 85-year-old father, of Oak Park, California, USA, was sick and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
In the days that followed, her mother was so weak that she could not walk. Now, both her father and mother are in the intensive care unit due to nCoV infection. Christmas is coming, Pirozzi is still anxiously waiting for updates from the hospital. “This is not the right time to decorate for Christmas,” said Pirozzi. “I worry about the two of you getting sick.” Hospitals are operating at full capacity and reaching their limits.
As of December 18, nearly 17,000 people were hospitalized, with confirmed or suspected nCoV infection. The state’s statistical model predicts that the number of people needing hospitalization could increase to 75,000 by mid-January 2021.
California leads the US with more than 48,000 new cases. On December 20, the US recorded an additional 171,549 infections and 1,351 deaths, bringing the total number of infections to 18,255,905, of which 324,806 people died. Hospitals across the state are struggling with a surge in patients and running out of morgue space. The number of empty beds in the emergency department is about to run out, patients are transferred to field areas. The triage of the sick is done in makeshift tents or in ambulances.
When Pirozzi’s father arrived at Los Robles Regional Medical Center, Thousand Oaks, it was already overcrowded. He spent two days in the emergency room before being admitted to the intensive care bed. Pirozzi kept calling the hospital, but the emergency nurses told her they had no room. Pirozzi said: “I’m sure it will be very difficult for him, when my father is alone and can’t breathe. The doctors are doing their best, but they are very stressed and exhausted.”
Her mother, Shirley, was taken to the same hospital four days later. Pirozzi said her family hid the fact that her mother was hospitalized. “I want him to be strong to continue the fight,” she said. “If he heard the news, he would be devastated.” Pirozzi said her parents were panicking. Every day, she sends sticky notes into plastic bags and asks the nurses to move them in and read them to the two of them.
She begged the public to take Covid-19 seriously. “Do all you can to protect yourself,” she said. Texas, Florida, New York and Tennessee each recorded more than 10,400 new cases. Over the past two weeks, the national average of seven-day new cases has increased by nearly 20%, from 219,324 cases per day compared with 183,787 previously.
Cases increased before and during Thanksgiving. Health officials are concerned that the Christmas and New Year holidays will make the situation worse. Some people who are tired of wearing masks and keeping their distance will defy the precautions. Although two potential vaccines have already been made available to the public, mass vaccination of the general public is unlikely to happen before spring.
Some new but less stringent restrictions are in place in Washington, DC, with a ban on dining in restaurants starting next week through mid-January.
The UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said on December 19, the UK had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about a new variant of nCoV that could spread faster. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new strain was believed to be linked to the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the south and southeast.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed stricter infection prevention measures on December 19, due to concerns about the speed of the new strain of nCov. Millions of people have had to cancel fun activities. Most stores in London close before the holiday.
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