As we discussed earlier this week, COVID hospitalizations significantly lag new infections. Today’s new hospitalizations were likely Halloween’s new infections. The US is currently in a massive upswing of infections at this time.
Wisconsin is reporting that their hospital systems are nearing capacity:
More than 7,000 people in Wisconsin tested positive again on Wednesday — the third time in the last five days — and 62 more people died. Hospitalizations are at a record high, too, with just 8% of the total number of ICU beds in the state available.
Infections for the week before Halloween was averaging about 5,000 new cases per day. Cases have skyrocketed in the state.
This matters a lot. Symptomatic case fatality rate when there is sufficient hospital capacity is about 1.7%. This will vary by a function of individual characteristics, treatment technology availability, learning and luck. Older, heavier and male patients have worse outcomes than younger, lighter and female patients. HOWEVER if there is insufficient hospital capacity available, fatality rates increase significantly and quickly. A lot of people who would be saveable won’t live through a hospitalization.
In the April and July surges, the hospital demand peaks were localized. National reserves and resources could be deployed. There were jets full of nurses and doctors flying into metro New York for three and four week tours to supplement and relieve local trained staff. Flights headed down to Florida, Texas and Arizona from the Northeast over the summer to do the same. The first two surges were accompanied by regions of the country with significant slack. There was flex in the system.
I am not sure if we are able to mobilize locally slack resources to surge to states. This is not a political judgement. It is a judgement that almost the entire country is red with rapidly rising daily case counts. There are no big states with low case counts and large medical complexes that are underutilized.
If regions have their hospitals overrun, fatality rates will quickly spike. Reserves and deployable resources that added skilled, trained staff to extend surge capacity in the first two waves may not be readily available.
Mask-up and stay distant as much as you can.