Hospital chiefs warn of next, potentially 'worse' COVID-19 wave

Hospital CEOs and chief medical officers are raising red flags about an uptick in COVID-19 cases in their communities.

The warnings come as the U.S. as a whole is averaging 59,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, the most the nation has seen since the beginning of August, according to The New York Times.

In New Jersey — the state with the highest COVID-19 reproduction rate as of Oct. 21 — Shereef Elnahal, MD, president and CEO of Newark-based University Hospital, said last week his hospital saw its first COVID-19-related death in months. On Oct. 19, he tweeted, "Our second wave has begun," adding that the test positivity rate at University Hospital is now higher than 4 percent. 

The chief medical officer of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta also signaled an uptick in COVID-19 patients. On Oct. 20, Robert Jansen, MD, CMO and chief of staff at Grady, told Atlanta news station WSB-TV that he is concerned the hospital is beginning to see a small increase in COVID-19 patients requiring critical care. "We've gone back up a little bit over the last several days. Our numbers have gone back up in the low 20s again" case-wise, he said.

And in Texas, Fred Cerise, MD, the CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, warned a new wave of COVID-19 cases in his community could be worse than a peak recorded in mid-July, according to The Dallas Morning News

"The number of COVID patients at Parkland has tripled in just over a month, and the cases we are seeing today reflect community activity from two weeks ago," he told the newspaper. He added, "Unless we are willing to revisit some of the restrictions on gatherings and our commitment to masking, then there is reason to believe this current wave will be worse than the one we experienced in the summer." 

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