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Covid-19 Cases Crest in U.S. as PPE Demand Remains High



Shipments of PPE and other requested medical aid are packed for departure to dozens of medical facilities across the United States on Nov. 25, 2020, inside Direct Relief's warehouse. Since November 1, Direct Relief has dispatched 746 shipments of medical aid, worth more $2.1 million, to health facilities across the U.S. as Covid-19 cases spike in many parts of the country. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

The United States is experiencing its highest coronavirus case counts of the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million cases identified in the country last week.

Direct Relief has again increased operational activity to respond to the spike in cases across the U.S., and the subsequent requests for medical aid from health providers.

Dozens of shipments were prepped in Direct Relief’s warehouse on Wednesday, as masks, gowns, gloves, and other PPE whizzed down conveyors belts before being packed into orange boxes, each departing for a health center, free clinic, local hospital, or public health agency responding to the pandemic.

Since November 1, Direct Relief has dispatched more than 2,300 shipments of medicine and supplies, worth $16.3 million, to 919 U.S. health facilities.

Over the past week, medical facilities in Montana, California, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri and others have received medical aid.

Health Providers Prepare for Patient Influx

With the CDC urging Americans not to spend the holiday with those outside of their immediate household, it could take several weeks to see whether an increase in cases results.

Direct Relief’s Research and Analysis team published AI-driven findings that identified the top 5 cities expected to experience the highest increase in cases over the next two weeks.

The dashboard above explores case count predictions by county.
The dashboard above explores case count predictions by county.

The top five U.S. counties based on total projected cases are Cook, Illinois, which contains Chicago; Los Angeles, California; Maricopa, Arizona; Harris, Texas, which contains Houston; and Dallas, Texas.

The model predicts almost 2.7 million new cases by Dec. 6.

This week, one Direct Relief partner reported how their hospital is faring now.

St. Mary’s Hospital – a 25-bed facility in Cottonwood, Idaho, which received PPE from Direct Relief – is hovering at or near capacity as the state reports a staggering jump in case totals. The health system, which includes two hospitals and multiple primary care clinics, serves roughly 20,000 patients across three counties in western Idaho. The rural critical access hospital isn’t equipped with ventilators or breathing machines, so they’ve transferred patients with severe cases to urban hospitals with intensive care units.

“Boise is about six hours from us and sometimes that’s the only bed that we can find,” said Lenne Bonners, the health systems’ CEO. But, because hospitalizations are surging, many of these ICUs are at capacity. “Our doctors are spending four or five hours on the phone, trying to find a bed available, because you can’t transfer a patient until you have an accepting physician on the other end,” said Bonners.

Continued Commitment

With cities as well as rural areas now experiencing the brunt of the pandemic, Direct Relief is committed to responding as needed as the winter months progress.

Since January, Direct Relief has delivered more than 46 million N95 and surgical masks, more than 8 million gloves, more than 2 million face shields and tens of thousands of protective suits and other items to help safeguard health workers. The organization has provided more than $36 million in financial support to health facilities responding to the pandemic.

– Direct Relief’s Amarica Rafanelli, Leighton Jones and Noah Smith contributed reporting for this article.

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