The coronavirus surge across the U.S. heartland again broke records on Tuesday, both for the number of patients hospitalized as well as numbers of new cases.
Almost 62,000 people were hospitalized with coronavirus as of Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 59,000 set only one day before. In addition, 139,855 new cases were recorded on Tuesday according to the New York Times, the highest ever since the start of the pandemic.
“The virus is spreading in a largely uncontrolled fashion across the vast majority of the country,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the Infectious Diseases department of Vanderbilt University, told the Associated Press.
Doctors are now better able to treat severe cases of coronavirus with experience gained since the start of the pandemic. However, the size and scope of the current wave of infections threatens to overwhelm the hospital systems of many states, according to public health officials.
The new surge is spread across an area from Ohio to Idaho and from North Dakota as far south as Texas. The rise in cases can partly be blamed on fall weather driving more people indoors, where coronavirus spreads faster. People may also be experiencing “COVID fatigue” and not adhering to mitigation guidelines (social distancing, mask-wearing, etc.).
“There really is COVID fatigue that is blending into COVID annoyance,” Dr. Schaffner said.
In encouraging news, Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Monday announced that their coronavirus vaccine had proved remarkably effective in trials up to now, and the companies could request emergency authorization from the FDA by the end of November. Production and distribution of the vaccine would continue well into 2021 because of the scope of the pandemic.