'People have completely let their guard down,' Houston Methodist CEO says; US cases hit all-time high — 5 COVID-19 notes

The U.S. reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases June 24, with high patient volumes continuing to overwhelm many hospitals in the South and West. 

The surges are largely driven by poor adherence to social distancing and other preventive measures, as many people "let their guard down," one Texas hospital CEO said. 

Five updates:

1. The U.S. reported 36,880 new COVID-19 cases June 24, the largest single-day increase seen during the pandemic, according to The New York Times. The previous record occurred April 24, when the U.S. reported 36,739 cases. Cases had been on a downward trajectory since late April but have surged in recent weeks, especially in the South and West. While the nation's testing capacity is increasing, testing alone does not explain the large increase in cases, NYT noted.

2. Houston's intensive care units are operating at 97 percent capacity amid a major surge in COVID-19 cases across Texas, Mayor Sylvester Turner said June 24, according to NBC News. The state reported a record 5,551 new cases June 24. In Houston, hospitals have seen cases triple over the past few weeks, Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom, MD, said on ABC News' "Good Morning America."

"People have completely let their guard down," Dr. Boom said. "Somewhere around Memorial Day people just sort of sighed a breath of relief and said, 'Hey, I'm going to act like it's summer. I’m going to act like this thing was never here,' and we're paying the price for that now."

The Texas Hospital Association said its members have the capacity to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients in a June 24 statement. Hospitals are reducing or pausing nonessential procedures and increasing bed capacity as necessary, the association said. They are also reserving 15 percent of bed capacity for COVID-19 patients. 

3. Hospitals are reporting dexamethasone shortages after a preliminary release found the steroid reduced deaths by a third for severe COVID-19 cases, according to STAT. From June 16 and June 19, hospital orders for the common and inexpensive corticosteroid jumped 610 percent. The rate at which orders were able to be filled and shipped dropped from 97 percent to 54 percent, according to the group purchasing organization Vizient. At least three manufacturers reported shortages June 24, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. 

4. Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized and put on a ventilator than women who aren't pregnant, according to a new CDC analysis, though other studies report conflicting results, The New York Times reports. The results were presented to a federal immunization committee June 24 and are to be published June 25. Researchers analyzed data from 8,207 pregnant women with COVID-19 from Jan. 22 to June 7. More than 31 percent of the pregnant women were hospitalized, compared to about 6 percent of 83,205 women studied who weren't pregnant. Pregnant women were more likely to require intensive care (1.5 percent versus 0.9 percent) and ventilation (0.5 percent versus 0.3 percent). The study didn't include whether hospitalizations for pregnant women were due to labor and delivery, so it's unclear whether the analysis reflects a true increase in risk. 

5. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut now require visitors from viral hot spots to self-quarantine for 14 days, WNBC reports. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the mandate will apply to any state where 10 of every 100,000 people test positive on a rolling seven-day basis. The order currently applies to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 2,381,369
Deaths: 121,979
Recovered: 656,161

Counts reflect data available as of 8:35 a.m. CDT June 25.

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