Amid surging Covid-19 cases across the US and an incompetent response by the federal government, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, one of the nation's leading hospitals in handling dangerous and unusual diseases, has been nearly overwhelmed, according to a media report.
With the country's only federal quarantine facility and a large bio-containment unit, the hospital in Omaha, Nebraska is believed as the best-prepared hospital in the US to handle a pandemic, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday citing the report published by The Atlantic.
Its staff began specifically preparing for emerging infections after the SARS outbreak in 2003 and it has detailed pandemic plans as well as experience in handling infectious diseases such as Ebola, said the report.
However, the hospital now is "on an absolutely catastrophic path", Angela Hewlett, an infectious-disease specialist, was quoted by The Atlantic as saying.
As some 2,400 Nebraska residents test positive for the virus every day, the hospital has to convert an entire building into a Covid-19 facility with 10 units in total, of which three provide intensive care and one provides "comfort care", said the report.
The surging cases have nearly pushed the hospital to its capacity ceiling.
With the hospital short-staffed and beds limited, patients with strokes and other urgent diseases are not getting the normal level of attention, according to the report.
"We're watching a system breaking in front of us and we're helpless to stop it," critical-care physician Kelly Cawcutt was quoted by the report as saying.
Dan Johnson, another critical-care doctor, said what makes the situation worse "is that it was preventable".
"The coronavirus is not unstoppable," but the US administration "never mounted a serious effort to stop it" and "created a situation in which hospitals could not possibly succeed", said the report, adding that Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has again refused to issue a statewide mask mandate.
"We can prepare over and over for a wave of patients, but we can't prepare for a tsunami," Cawcutt was quoted as saying in the report.
The number of Covid-19 cases in the US has topped 12 million with over 256,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
In its latest update on Monday, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the country's caseload and death toll stood at 12,226,643 and 256,741, respectively.