WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals hit 40,000 for the first time since August on Wednesday (Oct 21), according to a Reuters tally, as the nation battles a surge in infections led by Midwest states.
Hospitals have seen a 36 per cent rise in coronavirus patients over the past four weeks and Midwest hospitals are setting new records every day.
So far in October, 16 states have reported their highest daily numbers of hospitalised Covid-19 since the pandemic started, including the Midwest states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Hospitalisations of virus-stricken patients have set records in every region except the North-east. Hospitalisations are a closely watched metric because they are not influenced by how much testing is done.
In addition to hospitalistions reaching 40,264 on Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases of Covid-19 have risen 45 per cent in the past four weeks and is also approaching levels last seen during the summer peak, according to a Reuters analysis.
On Friday, the US recorded 69,478 new cases, the highest single-day total since July 24 and the fifth-highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced that a field hospital in the Milwaukee suburbs admitted its first Covid-19 patient since it opened last week.
"Folks, please stay home," Mr Evers said. "Help us protect our communities from this highly contagious virus and avoid further strain on our hospitals."
In New Mexico, the governor warned on Monday that the state's healthcare resources might not be enough if coronavirus cases continue to rise at the current pace.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has started a late-stage trial to evaluate if immune-modulating therapies from three drugmakers can help reduce the need for ventilators for Covid-19 patients and shorten their hospital stay.
The study will enroll up to 2,100 hospitalised adults with moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms in the United States and Latin America.