States faced a deadline on Friday to place orders for the coronavirus vaccine as many reported record infections, hospitalizations and deaths, while hospitals were pushed to the breaking point — with the worst feared yet to come.
The number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 hit an all-time high in the U.S. on Thursday at 100,667, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That figure has more than doubled over the past month, while new daily cases are averaging 210,000 and deaths are averaging 1,800 per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Arizona reported more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases for the second straight day Friday as the number of available intensive care unit beds fell below 10% statewide. Hospital officials have said the outbreak will exceed hospital capacity this month.
The state expects to get enough doses of new coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year to inoculate more than 383,000 health care workers and long-term care facility residents, the state’s health director said Friday. Next in line are teachers and other essential workers, followed by older Arizonans or people otherwise at higher risk of serious cases of COVID-19.
Nevada reported 48 new deaths from the coronavirus Thursday, marking the deadliest day since the onset of the pandemic as cases and deaths continued to rise more than a week after new restrictions were implemented on businesses. One hospital was so full it was treating patients in an auxiliary unit in the parking garage.
State officials said Friday that they expect to receive 164,000 doses this month.
North Carolina reported a record 5,600 new confirmed cases Thursday and 2,100 hospitalizations, as it awaited nearly 85,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, perhaps as early as Dec. 15.
Health care workers at a limited number of mostly large hospitals will be the first in line to receive the vaccine, prioritizing those who are at highest risk of exposure to the virus, officials said. Future doses will be distributed to more hospitals and to local health departments, followed by nursing home staff and residents.