Covid surge overwhelms hospitals across America…
Covid-19 case counts and hospitalizations exploded across the country this week, as governors imposed new restrictions and the White House coronavirus task force warned of “aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread.” In Chicago, officials issued a stay-at-home advisory, and Philadelphia banned most private indoor gatherings. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set off a firestorm by canceling all in-person learning at high schools and colleges for three weeks as well as shuttering casinos and movie theaters. Yet a new Reuters poll found that almost 40 percent of Americans intend to gather with 10 or more people for Thanksgiving, despite a national average of 156,000 new infections a day over the past week. The death toll hit more than 1,700 on a single day, and hospitalizations reached new highs at more than 73,000. “We are in a full-blown pandemic crisis,” said Robert Kenagy, CEO of the Stormont Vail Health hospital system in Topeka, Kan., where hallways and waiting rooms were being converted into ad hoc Covid-19 treatment areas.
In South Dakota, the seven-day test positivity rate rose to 58 percent, while in New Mexico, according to federal officials, the rate of community spread was “threatening the health system.” At the Moore County Hospital District in North Texas, staff sought help from as far as 500 miles away in Kansas City because all other local hospitals were filled beyond capacity. Over a six-day stretch, six Covid-19 patients perished there while awaiting transport. “These are our neighbors, our family members,” said Jeff Turner, the hospital’s chief. “That makes it tough.”
What the columnists said
“At the root of this third wave is public fatigue,” said Jamie Downie in The Washington Post. After nine months of living in strict social bubbles and seeing friends and family only behind masks, Americans are gravitating back to old habits and holding dinner parties, game nights, and sleepovers. In fact, contact tracers now report that these “small, private social gatherings,” rather than the earlier nursing home outbreaks and superspreader events, are fueling the pandemic’s latest surge.
Yes, the numbers are grim, said Jacob Sullum in Reason.com. But officials shouldn’t respond by placing “arbitrary legal restrictions” upon their citizens. In some places, schools are closing even though children, especially elementary school kids, have not been a major source of virus transmission. In others, like Chicago, officials are urging people to stay at home while keeping restaurants, movie theaters, and fitness clubs open. When “there’s little rhyme or reason to Covid-19 control measures,” people are unlikely to obey them.
Please “cancel Thanksgiving,” said James Hamblin in TheAtlantic.com. The prospect of tens of millions of Americans “congregating in multigenerational units indoors” while having lively, particle-spewing arguments over three-hour meals threatens to make our current “worst-case scenario” even worse. For the well-being of those you love and the country, eat at home just this one Thanksgiving and call or Zoom your friends and family. Next year, after we’ve been vaccinated, we will have twice as much to celebrate. “It will be like a Super Thanksgiving.” ■