DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — As the month of October comes to a close, the United States is hitting its highest seven-day average for virus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. With this spike comes hospital scarcity and patients searching far and wide for answers.
“Her last words were ‘I don’t know how this is going to end up,’ and that’s the way we left it,” said Lynn Cronemiller, whose wife Kathy has been battling COVID-19 for more than two weeks.
Cronemiller has slept inside his van outside his wife’s hospital room in Ada, Oklahoma, for two weeks. She had been hooked up to a ventilator battling the virus when additional health complications started to emerge.
“She just kept on declining,” said Cronemiller.
Kathy needed higher-grade care, the rural hospital said it couldn’t provide, but an available COVID bed was hard to find.
“But we had a list, we just started calling every one of them,” said Cronemiller. “No COVID beds.”
Dr. George Monks with the Oklahoma State Medical Association tells NewsNation these kinds of hospital transfers are now taking place on a daily basis.
“Most hospitals in Oklahoma are functioning at or near capacity,” said Monks. “We’re still taking care of all of those other patients who are having heart attacks, strokes, infections, and then you add 1,000 COVID patients into the mix, and that really just cuts the slack out of the system.”
The Cronemillers eventually claimed a bed 200 miles away in Fort Worth. Across the entire state of Texas, the Department of Health reports there are about 1,100 ICU beds available and about 7,600 ventilators.
El Paso local Shae Acosta is choosing to monitor her COVID symptoms from home after the county judge announced all city hospitals were at 100 percent capacity.
“I do feel safer here,” said Acosta. “And I know there are people that are a lot worse, and I feel for them because people are not paying attention that this is real.”
This weekend, mobile medical units being placed around El Paso after the city was asked to stay home for two weeks due to a 300 percent spike in hospitalizations. But no matter where you live, Dr. Monks says this: “Right now, the only thing that we have to combat this virus is wearing your mask, washing your hands frequently and physical distancing,” Monks said. “Until we get a vaccine, that’s our best defense against this virus.”
Dr. Monks also told NewsNation that due to skyrocketing hospitalizations, some hospitals are taking it upon themselves to stop elective surgeries to clear up space and staff for the most critical patients. It is also worth noting that there are only three states in the entire country are currently seeing a decline in cases—Hawaii, Louisiana and Delaware.