Close to 37,000 Americans died of coronavirus also known as COVID-19 in November, the most in any month since the dark early days of the pandemic, engulfing families in grief, filling newspaper obituary pages and testing the capacity of morgues, funeral homes and hospitals, AP reports.
Amid the resurgence, states have begun reopening field hospitals to handle an influx of patients that is pushing health care systems — and their workers — to the breaking point. Hospitals are bringing in mobile morgues. And funerals are being livestreamed or performed as drive-by affairs.
Health officials fear the crisis will be even worse in the coming weeks, after many Americans ignored pleas to stay home over Thanksgiving and avoid people who don’t live with them.
“I have no doubt that we’re going to see a climbing death toll … and that’s a horrific and tragic place to be,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It’s going to be a very dark couple of weeks.”
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November’s toll was far lower than the 60,699 recorded in April but perilously close to the next-highest total of almost 42,000 in May, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Deaths had dropped to just over 20,000 in June after states closed many businesses and ordered people to stay at home.
The fast-deteriorating situation is particularly frustrating because vaccine distribution could begin within weeks, Michaud said.
At Mercy Hospital Springfield in Missouri, a mobile morgue that was acquired in 2011 after a tornado ripped through nearby Joplin and killed about 160 people has been put into use again.
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