Across the nation: Coronavirus infections rising in rural America

Coronavirus

(NewsNation Now) — The U.S. hit another grim milestone Friday in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 8-million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, with the number of positive tests still rising in 48 states.

A day earlier, new confirmed daily cases rose above the 65,000 mark, a total the country hasn’t seen since July.

As NewsNation looked at the impact across the country, our reporters found college campuses thrown into turmoil and health care workers squaring-off with elected officials on the best way forward.

Doctors in North Dakota are locking horns with their state’s Republican governor over masks. Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) questions their effectiveness, while physicians beg for a statewide mask mandate. October is on pace to be the state’s deadliest month since the pandemic began.

“As a person who has had patients die, I can say that this decision is a no brainer from a public health or physician perspective,” said Bismark Dr. Kathy Anderson. “If we’re talking about the loss of life, we’re going to see more and more of that.”

In upstate New York, the president of the State University of New York at Oneonta abruptly resigned, weeks after her school recorded the most severe coronavirus outbreak of any public university in the state. Last month, more than 700 students there tested positive.

New data in South Dakota reveals COVID-19 cases are taking up over 20% of beds in intensive care units. The state acknowledges medical staff may be spread too thin. Hospital administrators say they’re making every accommodation they can.

In west Texas, extra staff and supplies are being sent to battle a spike in COVID hospitalizations. The health department in Lubbock said it has seen at least 200 cases per day for days now — way too many for a city of 250,000.

“We have seen an increase — a pretty significant increase — in COVID cases both in the El Paso area and in the Amarillo and Lubbock areas, which then creates an increase in hospitalizations,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Mississippi hospitals are also feeling the strain. State health officials there said six hospitals currently have no available ICU beds; in short, no space left to treat the most serious COVID patients.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs is Mississippi’s State Health Officer. He believes in masks, and like many public health officials across the country, fears we’re not wearing them enough at the worst possible moment.

“We may head back to having to do more mandatory masks if we can’t do it voluntarily,” he said. “If we can do things voluntarily, I think that just makes so much more sense.”

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