ACROSS AMERICA — Nurses across America are overwhelmed in battling the coronavirus.
Jim Gentile, a surgical nurse at the St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, told The Guardian he is haunted by the number of patients who have died alone. Nurses at the Pennsylvania hospital returned to work Sunday after a four-day strike that was called due to staffing and wage issues.
“Many of us have PTSD, and many of us would just sob on the way home,” he said. “And then 10 hours later we’d get back on the horse and do it all over again.”
He said he saw more patients wrapped in body bags during the spring surge than in his previous 25 years as a nurse.
Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United, told The Guardian nurses are "totally burned out" as hospitalization numbers rise in nearly every region of the country.
“We’ve normalized this crisis," she said. "We’re staffing [hospitals] as if there were normal times and it’s not. Nurses who used to have, say, one [patient] code per shift are now seeing that exploding to where there are multiple codes going on. And it takes a toll.”
The coronavirus isn't just overwhelming nurses, however. It's killing them, too.
Nearly one-third of the 1,400 frontline healthcare workers who have died from the virus are nurses, The Guardian and Kaiser Health News found in a recent study.
Things look to only get worse in the near future.
More than 1,000 hospitals are critically understaffed, according to an NPR analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Coronavirus cases across the United States continue to skyrocket at an unprecedented rate. The country topped the 12 million case mark over the weekend, just six days after the 11 millionth case was reported and less than two weeks after the 10 millionth.
The virus is spreading "faster" and "broader" than the initial spring surge, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus task force director, told CNN.
"And what worries me, it could be longer," she said.
Forty-five states are currently reporting positivity rates higher than 5 percent, with Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, New York and Massachusetts the only states with lower than 5 percent positivity rates.
But as cases run rampant across the nation, drugmaker Pfizer has said it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of its coronavirus vaccine, the New York Times reported.
If approved, the vaccine could reach its first American recipients by the middle of December.
The good news on the vaccine front comes as the Food and Drug Administration approves an emergency authorization for the antibody treatment used on President Donald Trump when he contracted the coronavirus last month.
The treatment, a cocktail of two powerful antibodies, was created by the biotech company Regeneron, and has reduced medical visits for patients who use it early after they contract the disease, according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, in California, some residents are not happy with the new 10 p.m. curfew enacted by Gov. Gavin Newsom as a way to slow the virus' spread. About 400 protesters gathered in Huntington Beach, a community about 35 miles south of Los Angeles, Saturday night to voice their displeasure. The protest lasted about 90 minutes, according to a USA Today report.
“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic, and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,’’ Newsom said in a statement. “We are sounding the alarm.”
At least 912 new coronavirus deaths and 152,322 new cases were reported in the United States on Sunday, according to a Washington Post database. Over the past seven days, the United States has seen a 13.8 percent increase in cases and averaged more than 169,000 cases each day.
As of Sunday, 45 states and Puerto Rico remained above the positive testing rate recommended by the World Health Organization to safely reopen. To safely reopen, the WHO recommends states remain at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days.
More than 12.25 million people in the United States had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday morning, and more than 256,800 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.