States from Connecticut to the Rocky Mountain West are reeling under the surge. The US death toll has grown to 223,995, according to Johns Hopkins University. The total US caseload reported on the site Friday was 83,757, topping 77,362 cases reported on 16 July.
The impact is being felt in every section of the country – a lockdown at the Oglala Sioux reservation in South Dakota, a plea by a Florida health official for a halt to children’s parties, dire warnings from Utah’s governor, an increasingly desperate situation at a hospital in northern Idaho, which is running out of space and considering airlifts to Seattle or Oregon.
“We’ve essentially shut down an entire floor of our hospital. We’ve had to double rooms. We’ve bought more hospital beds,” said Dr Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist at the Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene. “Our hospital is not built for a pandemic.”
Utah governor Gary Herbert proclaimed Friday “a record day for Utah – but not a good one” as cases reached an all-time high.
“Up until now, our hospitals have been able to provide good care to all Covid and non-Covid patients who need it,” he said. “But today we stand on the brink. If Utahans do not take serious steps to limit group gatherings and wear masks, our healthcare providers will not have the ability to provide quality care for everyone who needs it.”
By public health order, masks are required in 21 counties, said Herbert, urging Utah residents to wear one whenever they are around someone outside their immediate household.
The seven-day rolling average for new daily cases in the US surpassed 61,140 on Thursday, compared with 44,647 two weeks ago. The record was reached on 22 July when the rolling average was 67,293.
The head of the World Health Organization warned that countries in the northern hemisphere are at a “critical juncture”.
“The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.