The dark winter that American officials have warned about has arrived in Southern California.
At Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, carols sung by members of the Los Angeles Opera have been replaced with a video by a street choir from Skid Row. So many patients are streaming into the hospital that gurneys have been placed in the gift shop, and the entire lobby is now a space to treat patients. The waiting room is a tent outside.
Health care workers at Providence St. Mary Medical Center are getting their first shots of a coronavirus vaccine to the sound of Christmas music. Yet the moment the needle leaves their arms, there is the next “code blue,” or the next FaceTime goodbye to arrange between a dying patient and a grieving family.
“Every day is scary,” said Lisa Thompson, an intensive care nurse at the hospital. “We can’t even keep up with the amount of patients coming into the hospital.”
In increasingly urgent tones this week, health officials and political leaders in Southern California have called on people to stay home for the holidays, desperately hoping to forestall another surge in infections, on top of the current crisis that came after Thanksgiving.
But so far very little has slowed the spread of the virus in the state, which became the first to reach two million recorded virus cases.
In Los Angeles County, a vast region whose population is roughly the size of Michigan’s, there are about 6,500 people hospitalized with Covid-19, a fourfold increase over the last month. The number of patients in intensive care units is close to 1,300, double what it was a month ago.
The county on Thursday reported 148 new deaths, the equivalent of about one every 10 minutes and its highest total during the pandemic, according to a New York Times database. Nearly every hospital has surged past its capacity.
But the availability of beds is not the most urgent concern. With so many employees falling sick or taking leave, hospitals are struggling to find enough workers.
Nearly 330,000 Americans have died in the coronavirus pandemic as new cases explode across the nation — a grim human toll that can feel lost in the numbers.
But a haunting photo showing a masked nurse caressing the face of an elderly man in a hospital bed with her blue-gloved hand has gone viral — because the patient, Jose Garcia, was the nurse’s father.
Mr. Garcia, 68, a longtime farmworker in New Mexico, died on Dec. 15. The cause was complications of Covid-19, said the daughter who tended him, Carolina Garcia, one of his nine children.
As many Americans are winding down for the holidays, an explosion of coronavirus cases and deaths across the nation is hitting with perilous force, particularly in the South, which avoided much of the fall surge.
Six Southern states have seen sustained case increases in the last week: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Texas.
Tennessee reported the country’s most cases per 100,000 people on average over the last seven days, and Alabama set a single-day death record for the state on Wednesday, with 135, according to a New York Times database. In Florida, a virus surge in the past week means cases could soon surpass the state’s summer peak.
These increases are not just indicative of more testing. Florida’s more than 20 percent rise in cases over the last two weeks matches the growth in hospitalizations, although far fewer residents are hospitalized now than in the summer. In Texas, which has also had an upswing of more than 20 percent over the same time period, Dallas County has added more than 15,000 cases in the last week, a record.
A somber holiday season comes as the national death toll surpassed 326,000 on Thursday, more than any other country. More than 3,400 deaths were reported on Thursday, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic.
In Tennessee, home to six of the nation’s 20 metropolitan areas with the most recent cases per capita, frontline medical workers say hospitals are overwhelmed with virus patients.
Dr. Jason Martin, a critical care specialist outside Nashville, said the intensive care unit where he works has been at or near capacity for weeks, an unsustainable level compounded by lax state public health restrictions. Although Gov. Bill Lee recently placed some limitations on indoor public gatherings, he has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate. That has left many rural counties, where officials have resisted imposing mask requirements, more vulnerable to the virus.
But Dr. Martin said his patients have little doubt about the seriousness of the coronavirus. “The people who come in, they believe, by the time they’ve gotten to me,” he said. Many of his patients have expressed regret about their decisions, like going to a relative’s funeral or socializing with people who showed no symptoms.
“What makes this so maddening is that we know how to stop it,” Dr. Martin said, “and we choose not to.”
Virus mutate often. Only when the new strain of the virus behave diifferently (in this case, spread faster), we will take notice.
3,841 new cases (new national record) and 55 new deaths in Japan
I have already emailed this news to all my friends and relatives!
All foreigners cannot enter into Japan!
Machine translation of the news:
The government on Thursday announced the suspension of new entry for foreigners from all over the world. It responds to outbreaks of the new coronavirus variant, which is very infectious in the UK and elsery, and has been detected in Japan as well as in airport quarantine and in Tokyo. Stricter water's-water measures and prevent infections from spreading in the country.
28 to the end of January 2021. Aling it is possible for Japanese and foreigners living in Japan to return home or re-enter Japan, regulations will be tightened, such as not allowing the relaxation of waiting for two weeks after returning to Japan, which is exempt under certain conditions.
Since October, the government has allowed new arrivals from various countries for those staying in Japan for more than three months, provided they wait two weeks after entering Japan. In response to the spread of the mutant species, the UK was removed from the UK on The 24th and South Africa on the 26th. Similar measures will be spread to all countries and regions from August 28.
The relaxation of waiting after entry for Japanese who returned or re-entered japan from foreign countries was also suspended for the UK from 24th and asked to wait. This will also be targeted worldwide from The 28th.
Prior to this, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held talks with senior officials of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for about 20 minutes at the prime minister's official residence on Thursday. In response to the first detection of a mutant species in Japan, the response was discussed. We received a report on the current situation from Mr. Hideki Taruma, Undersecretary of Health, Labour and Welfare.
At a press conference on Thursday, the prime minister said he would "swiftly strengthen measures in view of the situation in each country" regarding the response to the mutant species, and indicated that he would consider strengthening measures at the water's end.
On the same day, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced that a variant of the new corona had been detected in five men and women who entered the country by air from the UK. Outside of airport quarantine, it was found by Thursday that men who had traveled to the UK had been infected with the variant.
The mutant species has been found not only in the UK but also in Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia, and has been confirmed for the first time in Germany. It is said that it is up to 70% more likely to be infected than conventional viruses, but the risk of becoming severe remains the same.