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A healthcare professional suits up to enter a COVID-19 patient's room in the ICU at Van Wert County Hospital in Ohio. Photo: Megan Jelinger/AFP

Utah doctors are doing what they say is the equivalent of rationing care. Intensive care beds in Minnesota are nearly full. And the country overall continues to break hospitalization records — all as millions of Americans travel to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Why it matters: America's health care workers are exhausted, and the sickest coronavirus patients aren't receiving the kind of care that could make the difference between living and dying.

The big picture: Some overwhelmed hospitals are sending patients away to receive care elsewhere, while others are reducing the quality of care that their patients receive — a byproduct of being short-staffed.

  • For example, 75% of counties in Kansas and Missouri don't have any ICU beds, so these patients are sent to city hospitals — some of which are starting to crack under the increased caseload, NPR reports.
  • "It's not just the rural health care infrastructure that becomes overwhelmed when there aren't enough hospital beds, it's also the surrounding neighborhoods, the suburbs, the urban hospital infrastructure starts to become overwhelmed as well," Shannon Monnat, a rural health researcher at Syracuse University, told NPR.

What they're saying: "There are things going on right now that wouldn't normally happen," Andy Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious disease at the University of Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

  • "Patients from Idaho are not being accepted. People are staying in small community hospitals rather than coming to referral hospitals, where the greater [technical] sophistication is. It's just not the point where people are stacked up in the hallways with no bed."

The bottom line: One of the nation's most finite resources in our fight against COVID is health care workers. In too many places, they're reaching capacity.

Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking records

Go deeper

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

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

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.