The number of people being treated in hospitals across the U.S. for COVID-19 is reaching an earlier peak set in April.
The New York Times, citing figures from the COVID Tracking Project, said as of Wednesday 59,628 people were in hospitals with the coronavirus. The number is just shy of the peak of 59,940 people who were being treated on April 15 in hospitals.
The U.S. is now averaging more than 66,000 new virus cases per day. But the newspaper said the hospitalization figure may offer the clearest measure of how the coronavirus is causing the most serious illnesses.
About 60% of the hospitalizations are now in the South, according to the Times' analysis of the tracking project’s data. In the spring, nearly one in five hospitalized patients were in New York.
“Once you get to the point of being hospitalized or in the ICU [intensive care unit], some notable portion of those people will die,” said Natalie Dean, an infectious disease expert at the University of Florida.
Even when patients leave the hospital, “we don’t know what the long-term consequences are,” she said. “Surviving doesn’t mean thriving.”
The Times, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that as of earlier this month, people younger than 50 made up nearly 40% of the hospitalizations, compared with 26% in late April.
Meanwhile, Dr. Natasha Kathuria, an emergency room physician in Texas, says some hospitals in her state are running out of COVID-19 tests.
"We need rapid tests," Kathuria said.
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