Now that the time has come.

I believe we have reached the breaking point, said Dr. Adolf Edward, Executive Director of the El Centro Regional Medical Center in Southern California. The staff is there, but it’s broken.

On Thursday, only two beds remain in Edward Hospital before their ICU reaches maximum capacity. On a part of their parking lot a second field hospital with 50 beds was built, a scene reminiscent of the time a veteran of the Air Force spent in Baghdad.

He said I could really go back to the war zone. We’re at war with Covid.

Hospitals such as El Centro are already marginalized because the number of hospitalizations has increased throughout the country. But with lower temperatures pushing people into the room and a tired crowd wanting to celebrate the holidays, the doctors can be overwhelmed.

The figures give a gloomy picture. There were 217,664 new cases and 2,879 deaths in the United States on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. And 100,667 hospitalizations were registered in the Tracking Kovid project.

Fault! The file name is not specified.

And while the vaccines are under development, the United States still has a long way to go before it can return to normal.

The reality is that December, January and February will be difficult times, warned Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wednesday. In fact, I think this will be the most difficult in the history of health care in this country, especially because of the pressure on our health system.

Urgent need for health personnel.

Nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital in New Rochelle, New York – the first hotspot of Covid 19 on the East Coast – have hit the picket line this week, demanding better pay, more staff and better protective equipment in anticipation of a possible increase in the number of stays at Covid 19.

We now have fewer employees than we did in the spring… when Covid started working, Sister Cathy Santoyemma told CNN News12 in Westchester that we’re not even worried, we’re appalled.

There is a need for more staff in communities across the country. On Thursday, Massachusetts Health Minister Marilu Sudders announced plans to build a field hospital in Lowell and asked people to take a step forward in manning the facility.

Fault! The file name is not specified.

If you have the skills, the attitude and the time to work in a hospital, we need you, she says. It is time to take a step forward and serve our neighbors, society and our loved ones.

Also in El Centro Edward feels pressured. Despite the extra tent set up nearby, it is not certain that the facility can accommodate more patients without additional staff. The people already working in the hospital are severely exhausted, he said, and some get sick.

He does not expect the pandemic to end soon and is not sure that his employees will be able to work longer.

At some point the resilience starts to decrease, even though I know this team is ready, he said.

Nurses at the Hutchinson Regional Medical Centre in Hutchinson, Kansas, also fear a possible epidemic.

Fault! The file name is not specified.

In two or three weeks we will be overwhelmed, said Sister Mary Jones of the KWCH branch of CNN. Jones, who works at Covid-19, told the station that she has lost more patients in recent months than in the last decade.

There are days when you come home and are not sure if you will come back, days when you come here and you find that the one you took care of two days ago is gone, she says.

Yet nurses continue to care for patients who deny the existence of the virus, she said. A patient told Jones that masks don’t make a difference, and Covid doesn’t really exist.

Flooded Funeral Home

This attention extends to all aspects of society, including funeral homes such as Fry Chapel and Mortuary in Blythe, California, along the southeastern border of the state of Arizona.

Fault! The file name is not specified.

Sheila Kruger, managing partner of the funeral home, told CNN that her company had tripled. She has booked a funeral for the next four or five weeks, and the coronavirus is responsible for an increasing proportion of deaths.

We’ve had couples who died of each other during the day, husband and wife. We have parents and children who die within a week. She said it was a cardiac arrest.

This summer, Kruger’s staff was overworked and faced 135 deaths in one month, compared to an average of 55. Since then, it has doubled its staff and purchased additional cooling equipment for the storage of corpses. But now they’re filling up again.

Experts assume that the number of deaths will increase exponentially. Last week, Dr. Jonathan Rainer of the George Washington University School of Medicine predicted that the mortality rate would double to an average of 4,000 a day in less than two weeks.

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Krüger is not alone. In Rockford, Illinois, Tim Honquest, director of Honquest Family Funeral Homes, a WREX spokesperson for CNN, told his company ran out of radiator storage last month.

In November alone, his activity almost doubled: he held 54 funerals, compared to the usual 30. Twenty-six funerals were scheduled at Covida-19 last month.

While Kruger believes her employees are coping with the business boom, she believes some of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, in part because they have to keep telling grieving families they can’t get a funeral for five weeks.

We’re all a little bit in love and we talk to each other: We don’t want to do this again, she said.

Demand for food on roofs

The need is not limited to medical staff. Many families are just trying to make ends meet.

Fault! The file name is not specified.

Karen Sosa was first in line for the Los Angeles Food Bank this week. She has only been unemployed for two weeks, but her family has four children to feed, so she uses the available resources.

We don’t know when we’ll have an income, so we don’t know when we’ll be able to buy food, she said. He’s a good lifeguard. We don’t know when we’ll get the money, but at least we’ll have food.

The sauce isn’t alone. There are lineups all over the country, including in Miami, where, according to Paco Veles, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, more than a thousand families line up to pick up cans of milk, pre-cooked chicken and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables from a food distribution Thursday.

But these boxes are partly funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Aid Program – and that aid ends this week.

Fault! The file name is not specified.

These food crates end at the end of this week… and then before the end of December we have to figure out how to bring food so these families have enough to eat for the rest of the month, Veles said.

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank President and CEO Michael Flood said his organization’s food distribution has increased 145 percent – an unprecedented demand. He sees every day that families worry if they have a roof over their heads and where they will eat their next meal. And many of those who seek help do so for the first time, like Sosa.

We don’t know when it’s going to end, he said.

Stephanie Becker of CNN contributed to this report.

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