Jan 7, 2021 - Health

Severe coronavirus infections continue to mount

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, Harvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: The COVID Tracking ProjectHarvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Deaths and severe illness from the coronavirus continue to set new records almost every day, especially in the South and the West.

The big picture: More than 130,000 Americans are in the hospital today with COVID-19 infections. That's straining several states' health care systems and will keep pushing the virus' death toll higher and higher.

By the numbers: In 34 states, coronavirus patients are occupying at least 10% of all hospital beds.

  • Arizona, California and Nevada are in exceptionally bad shape — over 30% of all the hospital beds in each state are filled with coronavirus patients.
  • 11 states are seeing more hospitalizations now than at any other point in the pandemic.

Why it matters: Hospitalizations are an indicator of severe infection. Mildly sick patients generally aren't hospitalized, especially in states that don't have the capacity to handle many more patients at all.

  • And people who are sick enough to warrant a hospital stay are the patients most at risk of dying from the virus.
  • The virus has already killed roughly 350,000 people in the U.S. and is killing about 3,000 people per day.

The bottom line: The U.S. just seems to have accepted that 3,000 people are going to keep dying every day, at least until we can all get vaccinated — assuming we're all willing to get vaccinated.

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