BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The United States is approaching a record for the number of new daily coronavirus cases in the latest ominous sign about the disease’s grip on the nation, as states from Connecticut to Idaho reel under the surge.
The impact is being felt in every section of the country — a lockdown starting Friday at the Ogala Sioux Tribe’s reservation in South Dakota, a plea by a Florida health official for a halt to children’s birthday parties, and an increasingly desperate situation at a hospital in northern Idaho, which is running out of space for patients and considering airlifts to Seattle or Portland, Oregon.
“We’ve essentially shut down an entire floor of our hospital. We’ve had to double rooms. We’ve bought more hospital beds,” said Dr. Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist at the Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene. “Our hospital is not built for a pandemic.”
Among those joining Scoggins at a meeting of northern Idaho’s Panhandle Health District was board member Walk Kirby.
“People are dying, they’re going to keep dying and catching this stuff,” Kirby said. “How many people won’t wear a mask? The same people that won’t get vaccinated for it.”
The seven-day rolling average for new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 61,140 Thursday, compared with 44,647 two weeks ago. The record was reached July 22 when the rolling average was 67,293 in the midst of a summer outbreak driven largely by surges of the virus in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
The U.S. recorded 71,671 new cases Thursday, with several states setting records across the Midwest and West.
The surge in the United States mirrors a similarly widespread spike in Europe, where Rome, Paris and other major cities are reining in nightlife as part of the increasingly drastic measures undertaken to slow the spread of the pandemic. In the Netherlands, a helicopter flew a Dutch COVID-19 patient to an intensive care unit in Germany, the first such international airlift since the pandemic first threatened to swamp Dutch hospitals in the spring.
The head of the World Health Organization warned that countries in the Northern Hemisphere are at a “critical juncture” as cases and deaths continue to rise.
“The next few months are going to be very tough and some countries are on a dangerous track,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing on Friday.