Oct. 16 (UPI) — The rising COVID-19 trend in the United States saw a dramatic spike nationwide on Thursday of more than 63,000 cases — the highest one-day count in more than two months.
According to updated data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 63,600 new cases Thursday, the most since Aug. 14 and just the second time since July it’s reached that level.
Since early September, Johns Hopkins data shows, cases in the United States have been on a clear and steady incline. The daily average in October so far is significantly higher than it was the previous month.
Thursday also saw more than 900 new deaths for the second day in a row.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 7.98 million cases of COVID-19 and about 217,800 deaths nationwide.
Thursday, updated research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said close to 400,000 people may be dead in the United States by the end of January under a “status quo” scenario in which no significant changes are made.
Factors like relaxed distancing mandates and mask usage influenced the updated figure.
The institute says deaths would rise to between 483,000 and 565,000 under a scenario in which mandates are relaxed — including, for instance, if the federal government pursues a dangerous “herd immunity” strategy.
Researchers said deaths could be limited to about 314,000 if strict mask mandates were imposed universally, as has been done in Singapore.
Health providers have reported shortages of available emergency care beds. In Oklahoma City, an official said Thursday the city has no intensive care beds available after a surge in cases.
Heather Yazdanipour, director of the Emergency Medical Services Authority, told Oklahoma City Council members there are major concerns about the ability to provide care.
“Looking at our numbers just this morning, I don’t have any ICU beds available in Oklahoma City,” she said, adding that situation is made worse by a staffing shortage.
Councilors voted Thursday to extend the city’s face mask mandate through Dec. 7.
In Kansas City, hospitals have had to turn away ambulances because there are no available beds.
Marc Larsen, operations director of Saint Luke Health System’s COVID Response Team, told The Kansas City Star that eight hospitals and emergency departments reported patient volumes so high that they temporarily stopped accepting ambulances.
“We’re bursting at the seams in the metropolitan area, and really across the state and the region,” he said.
In Montana, health officials say hospitals have reached or exceeded capacity amid staffing shortages.
“I will put this very simply. We are experiencing a public health crisis,” Dr. Bridget Brennan, chief medical officer of Benefis Health System, told reporters Thursday.
“The number of positive COVID cases is rising so quickly that it is threatening to overwhelm healthcare resources in the state.”