The current surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is extremely concerning for emergency physicians, patients, and health systems. With the U.S. surpassing 11 million cases and 1 million new cases recorded in just six days, this wave is bigger than what we experienced in the spring and is shaping up to be more dangerous, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and other experts.
The nation’s frontline physicians urge everyone—patients, clinical leaders, policymakers, and local officials—to stay vigilant and work together to curtail illness and limit the losses that this virus causes.
“Without an all hands effort, COVID-19 is going to keep spreading and we will risk losing more people that we know and love,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, FACEP, president of ACEP. “This surge is hitting with flu season and potential holiday gatherings to create a lethal combination. It is likely that the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet, so people should listen to public health experts to protect themselves and those they care about.”
Many parts of the country are experiencing record-breaking hospitalization rates while facing significant hospital capacity and resource issues. Hospitalization rates are rising in 47 states and, for at least 24 states they are higher than any previous point of the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Data from Johns Hopkins University and other sources show that currently no state is seeing a declining number of cases.
Efforts to manage these surges vary across state lines and many are complicated by hospital staffing and resource shortages, a continued lack of personal protective equipment, an insufficient national testing infrastructure, and the spread of misinformation.
Emergency physicians are meeting with local and national health officials and leaders in states hit hardest to discuss resource shortages and mitigation strategies that best protect patients, specifically mask wearing and testing capabilities. “State and local leaders who are willing to enact science-minded measures to slow the spread are going to be better positioned to save lives and put the nation on the right track,” said Dr. Rosenberg. “Meanwhile, we must not let our guard down in the colder months. We need to continue taking steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones, including practicing social distancing, covering our face when we’re around others, and frequently washing our hands.”