Months ago, the notion of the United States recording more than 100,000 coronavirus infections in a single day seemed inconceivable. But surging caseloads in nearly every state pushed the tally to a record 104,004 new infections on Wednesday — and it wasn’t even the biggest news story.
As Americans anxiously waited to find out who the next president will be, 18 states — including Kansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin and West Virginia — reported record numbers of patients hospitalized with covid-19. More than 1,110 fatalities were reported, pushing the total number of deaths reported since February past 233,000, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
Here are some significant developments:
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that a new economic stimulus bill should be finalized before the end of the year and will be the focus when the Senate resumes work next week
- A small airport in Iowa wants to use relief funds to screen passengers for the coronavirus, but the plan has been held up for months by the Federal Aviation Administration
- A North Dakota rancher who died of covid-19 in early October has won a seat in the state legislature
- Denmark wants to cull all 15 million minks in Danish farms to minimize the risk of them retransmitting the coronavirus to humans, according to the Associated Press
- European countries doubled down on their lockdown strategies on Wednesday, with British lawmakers overwhelmingly voting in favor of a month-long shutdown in England. Italy announced a new nationwide curfew, and France is considering imposing similar nighttime restrictions on Paris
With nearly 9.5 million coronavirus cases reported to date, the United States is adding new infections at an unprecedented rate.
The seven-day average for new cases hit record highs in 20 states spanning every region of the country on Wednesday, with the largest increases taking place in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Iowa, according to data tracked by The Post. Three states — Kansas, New Mexico and Wyoming — also reported their highest daily fatality counts to date.
“Now is the time to develop a testing strategy to maximize our ability to identify the silent epidemic of asymptomatic COVID-19 infections,” Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. The tweet drew incredulous responses, with many questioning why such a strategy hadn’t been designed earlier.
Surging caseloads across the Great Plains and Midwest have left many hospitals struggling to find space for coronavirus patients — or, crucially, qualified workers to take care of them. Dozens of Kansas hospitals told the AP that they expect to face staffing shortages next week, while the Star Tribune reported that the number of nurses who have entered quarantine meant only nine intensive care beds were available in Minnesota’s Twin Cities as of Wednesday morning.
In Oklahoma, where a record 1,026 coronavirus patients were being treated in hospitals on Wednesday, doctors called for a statewide mask mandate and warned of an impending crisis. Already, covid-19 patients are being moved around the state as hospitals juggle available beds and staffing levels, Oklahoma State Medical Association president George Monks told KFOR.
“We’ve got to do something different,” Monks said. “The pathway we are on is unsustainable.”
The Dakotas continue to add more new coronavirus cases per capita than any other part of the country — and many areas of the world. One hospital in Rapid City, S.D., has been freeing up space by moving coronavirus patients who will be discharged soon to an unfinished addition that is still under construction, KELO reported. In North Dakota, only 12 intensive care beds were available statewide by Wednesday morning, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
“We North Dakotans are in crisis,” Jeffrey Sather, the chief of staff at Trinity Hospital in Minot, N.D., said Tuesday, according to the paper. “The general population doesn’t realize the struggles that health systems are going through unless you or your family is one of those patients getting transferred across the state … or laying on an ER gurney rather than a hospital bed for 24 hours or more.”