America’s deadliest week: 21,752 die in the first days of 2021 pushing death toll to 372,428

The United States in the past week has reported more deaths from COVID-19 than it has in any other week during the pandemic.

According to the COVID-19 tracking Project, the record 21,752 deaths over the last week – the first time is hit over 20,000 – comes from across the country as fatalities rise in every single region.

On Saturday, there were 3,500 new deaths from coronavirus reported nationwide.

While the national number had dropped from its new peak of 4,000 earlier this week, California hit a new record of 695 coronavirus deaths bringing its death toll since the start of the pandemic to 29,233.

Los Angeles County now accounts for 40 percent of the state’s deaths despite only having 25 percent of its population after it reported 1,000 deaths in the past four days.

Nationwide, there have now been more than 22.1million Americans infection with COVID-19 and 372,428 deaths since the start of the pandemic.  

Los Angeles hospitals dealing with the surge of COVID-19 cases are using refrigerated trailers to temporarily store the deceased, pictured. It now accounts for 40% of the state’s deaths despite only having 25% of its population after it reported 1,000 deaths in the past four days

The U.S. this week reported more deaths from COVID-19 than it has in any other week during the pandemic, as pictured in COVID Tracking Project data above right

The COVID Tracking Project said that the outbreak in California is now is now in a ‘dire state’ as it now averages more than 410 deaths and nearly 40k new cases a day, pictured 

There were 261,994 new cases reported on Saturday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, down from 310,080 new cases the previous day.

Current hospitalizations are 130,777 with the seven-day average in hospitalizations climbing to a record 130,350.

The seven-day average for deaths also broke a new record reaching 3,091.

The COVID Tracking Project said that the outbreak in California is now is now in a ‘dire state’ as it now averages more than 410 deaths and nearly 40k new cases a day.

‘One in 105 people in CA have tested positive for COVID-19 in 2021,’ it adds. 

The state is bringing in refrigerated trucks to store bodies as morgues and hospitals struggle.

California desperately needs more medical workers at facilities swamped by coronavirus patients, and almost no help is coming from a volunteer program that Gov. Gavin Newsom created at the start of the pandemic.

An army of 95,000 initially raised their hands, but just 14 are now working in the field after others failed to meet requirements and qualifications. 

Very few volunteers actually met qualifications for the California Health Corps, and only a tiny sliver have the high-level experience needed to help with the most serious virus cases that are stretching intensive care units to the limit.

‘Unfortunately, it hasn´t worked out, and the goal is laudable,’ said Stephanie Roberson, government relations director for the California Nurses Association.

Newsom formed the Health Corps in anticipation of the cascading crises that California and other states are now experiencing.

COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and intensive care needs are spiraling out of control in the most populous state just as the rest of the nation sees a surge, overwhelming the usual pool of traveling nurses.

Similarly, New York had more than 80,000 medical volunteers respond to a call for help early in the pandemic when it was a hot spot, and some were deployed.

Deaths from COVID-19 are increasing in every region of the country

On Saturday, the U.S. broke records for seven-day hospitalizations and deaths

But hospitals more often turned to temporary workers to fill the gap, said Jean Moore, director of the Health Workforce Research Center at University at Albany.

Other states, including Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, tried variations of recruiting volunteers with limited results.

‘A volunteer corps assumes that it´s pretty easy to slot people in,’ said Sean Clarke, executive vice dean and professor at New York University´s Rory Meyers College of Nursing. ‘Figuring out how to do that still hasn´t been fleshed out, I guess.’

California officials say they need 3,000 temporary medical workers but had about one-third of those as of Thursday.

As one result, hospitals are waiving the state´s nurse-to-patient ratios, which can mean less care for critically ill patients.

Newsom had envisioned Health Corps volunteers helping fill in the gaps at health facilities. Those who qualified include retired or inactive doctors, nurses and respiratory care practitioners.

Though they’re volunteers, they’re paid what the state calls competitive wages.

Of the 95,000 who first expressed interest in the corps, only about a third had valid professional licenses and about 4,600 qualified.

Only 850 actually then signed up, a number that has largely remained static despite the governor´s repeated pleas to participate.

Some of the volunteers ‘don´t have the training at the highest levels to be helpful right now,’ California Hospital Association spokesman David Simon said.

‘It could just be that nurses know that this just might not be the safest place to work,’ Roberson said.

The state Emergency Medical Services Authority in June reported being overwhelmed with the initial crush of Health Corps applicants while employees were busy coordinating other urgent pandemic responses.

Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, CA where a refrigerated truck has been set up as an overflow morgue to help cope with the rising number of Covid-19 deaths

A field hospital tent for suspected Covid-19 patient triage stands outside the emergency department of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Community Hospital in Los Angeles. The hospitals in the county remain overwhelmed after it reported 1,000 deaths in the past four days

The program itself proved confusing for local disaster coordinators, wrote Craig Johnson, chief of the authority´s Disaster Medical Services Division.

Despite the shortfalls, the governor said the program ‘has been incredibly effective,’ with members having worked at more than 140 facilities statewide.

About 300 were sent to long-term care facilities early in the pandemic, 450 were used during the summer surge and 530 went to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in the fall.

Corps spokesman Rodger Butler said some have worked in intensive care units and that the program will keep working ‘to fulfill unmet needs throughout the state.’

The state has spent nearly $2.1 million on the program, money it hopes to largely recoup from the federal government or private medical facilities that used corps members.

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