The reason is simple: the US is experiencing a surge in cases, with states such as Florida, Texas and California reporting thousands of new confirmed cases in recent weeks.
Adm. Brett Giroir, an official on the White House coronavirus task force, said on Monday there was “no question we are having a surge right now.”
But while President Donald Trump, his allies and some Republican governors have pointed to increased testing as the reason, others have rightly pointed out that hospitalizations are not the result of testing, as testing does not send people to the hospital.
Only a serious illness like Covid-19 would do that.
“As rates of testing increase, we also are seeing increases in three other key indicators that suggest we are seeing a real increase in Covid infections,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She cited hospitalization rates, positivity rates, and deaths, which are now increasing in 26 states.
Here’s how the coronavirus is affecting hospitals in areas where it is spreading.
Hospitalizations in Florida
There are more than 9,500 people hospitalized in Florida and least 53 hospitals in 27 counties said they had no more beds in their ICUs, according to AHCA data.
Statewide, ICU bed availability stands at 15.98% — that’s “available adult ICU beds,” according to AHCA data. On Monday, the available ICU bed count was 18.1%.
For comparison, in New York City, where the pandemic first took hold in the US, officials reported a positivity rate of just 2%.
Hospitalizations in California
California was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order on March 18.
Less than a month later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said residents had “bent the curve,” and the state started to phase out the early stages of its reopening plan in May.
Now, Los Angeles County has surpassed its record for daily hospitalizations for the fourth time in just the past week alone, according to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.
Statewide, hospitalization rates and those in the intensive care unit are again reaching highs with increases of 1.9% and 0.7% respectively, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Meanwhile, California’s positivity rate over the past two weeks stands at 7.5%, which is slightly under the state’s goal of remaining below 8%, according to CDPH data. More than 6.5 million tests have been performed to date.
“We opened up too soon,” Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at the University of California Los Angeles, told CNN. “We didn’t have the virus totally under control.”
California is fast approaching New York in total number of confirmed cases, and at this rate, could easily surpass New York to have the highest number of confirmed cases in the US.
“Whatever is done, states experiencing these increases in severe illness and with health care facilities under siege need help and a plan B, because plan A, reopening with lukewarm or no adherence to masks or social distancing clearly did not work,” Marrazzo said.
Hospitalizations in Texas
Hospitals in Texas are facing an unprecedented wave of hospitalizations — it is the only state in the US currently with more than 10,000 hospitalizations.
While that number is still comparably low to the record 18,825 hospitalized in New York during the peak of the pandemic, there are fears it could potentially be matched or surpassed at its current rate.
On Monday, President Trump acknowledged that the state, along with Florida, was dealing with a “flare up” in cases.
It’s not the second wave — it’s the first
Officials and experts have long warned the public about bracing for a second wave, but the first wave has not truly ended and the spread of the virus has not even remotely been contained, some experts say.
“Some places never experienced an end of a first wave — certainly in the South, we never really got below a baseline level since April,” Marrazzo said. “A real second wave to me would be if someplace that has truly controlled spread, like New York or Connecticut, had another surge.”
Marrazzo believes that the surge in hospitalizations can be attributed to one simple thing: The uncontrolled and sustained spread of infection in the community. Until the spread of the virus is contained, the rate of hospitalizations will continue to remain high.
“None of those currently experiencing these worrisome trends ever fulfilled the criteria laid out by the task force, which included a sustained downtrend in the percent positive tests for at least 2 weeks,” Marrazzo said.
At least 27 states in the US have paused or rolled back their reopening plans due to the rising rates of infections. The math is simple: more infections will lead to more hospitalizations.
CNN’s Ryan Browne, Erica Henry, Randi Kaye, Jason Kravarik, Christina Maxouris, Sarah Moon, Jenn Selva, Sara Sidner, Naomi Thomas, Ben Tinker and Holly Yan contributed to this report.