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U.S. sets COVID-19 hospitalization record, as hospitals scramble to find enough nurses and doctors

Virus Outbreak US Surge
Posted at 4:39 AM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 08:58:25-05

More than 117,000 Americans were in the hospital because of COVID-19 symptoms on Tuesday, the largest number of currently hospitalized people from the virus since the pandemic started, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Tuesday, December 22, was also the 21st consecutive day the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has been above 100,000 in this country. The second-highest day was Monday, with just over 115,000 people hospitalized.

Several mobile field hospitals are being erected in California to handle the growing surge of COVID-19 patients.

In California alone, state officials reported 700 new hospitalizations on Tuesday. Doctors and nurses say they are treating patients in hallways and parking lots because of the lack of space for more people.

The California Department of Public Health reports there are 0% ICU beds available in the large Southern California region, including Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as the San Joaquin Valley region in the center of the state.

The record high number of people in the hospital with a transmissible disease is straining medical facilities, as well as staff.

Leaders around the country say they are increasingly worried about staffing levels at medical facilities. At a time when there are surges in patients needing intense care, there are staffing shortages and staff balancing quarantine measures. Because “hot spots” are popping up almost everywhere, there are not many doctors or nurses who are available to help other regions.

California says they are in need of about 3,000 temporary medical workers to meet the demand. State officials are reaching out to foreign partners in Australia, Taiwan and other locations to recruit critical care nurses, the LA Times reports.