Global COVID-19 total tops 51 million as US hospital cases rise

Nov. 11, 2020

The global tally for confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 50.9 million on Tuesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll rose to 1.3 million. The U.S. has the highest case tally in the world at 10.1 million and highest death toll at 238,251 or about a fifth of the global totals.  

More people are now in the hospital with COVID-19 than ever before, and the per-capita hospitalization rates in the Midwest have now surpassed those of the South in the summer’s Sunbelt surge, according to a blog post by Alexis Madrigal and Erin Kissane for The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. Hospitals across the country are warning of staff and PPE shortages, and case rates continue to spike in every US region,

There are now 40 percent more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than there were two weeks ago. The hospitalization increase are primarily located in the Midwest, where cases began to rise weeks ago. The outbreaks in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio began spiking more than three weeks after early outlier Wisconsin—and cases and hospitalizations in Wisconsin are still rising.

Even the Midwest remains far short of the per-capita hospitalizations in the Northeast’s spring outbreaks, but some low-population Midwest states are posting alarming per-capita numbers. And as noted above, we may have a long way to go before we see these outbreaks peak.

In both North and South Dakota, more than one in 2,000 state residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 right now. Only New York and New Jersey have seen higher rates of hospitalizations per capita.

Improved outcomes depend on maintaining the highest standard of care. With hospitalization numbers like these, it is not clear that healthcare systems in all hard-hit areas will be able to maintain this standard. In North Dakota, so many healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 that the state is now putting asymptomatic—but still infectious—workers back into hospitals to care for patients.

Throughout the year, hospitals and healthcare workers have issued warnings that if we do see hospitals overwhelmed, fatality rates will soar. As cases and hospitalizations continue to rise nationwide, we are poised to enter a new and possibly bleaker phase of the pandemic. We can only hope that if more state officials act quickly to establish effective mitigation measures, their effects will come in time to avoid the worst.

The COVID Tracking Project has the post.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.