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A healthcare professional exits a Covid-19 patient's room in the ICU at Van Wert County Hospital in Van Wert, Ohio on Nov. 20. Photo: Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images

Hospitals across the country are reaching their breaking point on ICU and bed capacity as COVID surges, forcing many health systems to begin diverting patients from emergency rooms and ration care.

The big picture: Current hospitalizations from the coronavirus have been continually rising since October, and more than 100,000 Americans are now in the hospital with COVID infections. Health officials are worried that Thanksgiving travel exacerbated already skyrocketing cases.

  • Pennsylvania: "Most hospitals in Montgomery County are at or near capacity," county Commissioners’ Chairwoman Valerie Arkoosh said in Norristown, Pennsylvania last Wednesday. She noted that the majority of hospitals in the state's third-most populous county are diverting patients from emergency rooms and canceling surgeries.
  • New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham (D) plans to allow hospitals to ration care depending on how likely a patient is to survive, the Washington Post reports. Grisham required residents to wear masks and re-enacted strict mitigation efforts.
  • Ohio: "We are in a really difficult spot here when hospitals are already at their highest levels and at high capacity across the state, and we’re just heading into what the CDC director has described as the most challenging three months of the pandemic," Andy Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical center, said at the governor's news conference last week.
  • Georgia: Major hospitals, including Grady Memorial and Emory University, have had to turn away patients brought in ambulances, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports.
  • South Dakota: The Monument Health Rapid City Hospital and Sanford USD Medical Center — some of the biggest in the state — say they have no more ICU beds, The Mitchell Republic reports.
  • Colorado: More than a third of hospitals across the state said in a survey they expect staffing shortages this week, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Context: White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx noted on Sunday's "Meet the Press" that U.S. hospitals are usually anywhere from 80 to 90% full in the fall and winter — and "when you add 10, 15, 20% COVID-19 patients on top of that, that's what puts them at the breaking point."

Go deeper: Health care workers at a breaking point

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.