As the number of coronavirus cases continue to tick up in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday it could fairly soon before hospitals are at full capacity and a field hospital will be needed once again.
The governor was joined by three emergency room doctors at her weekly coronavirus briefing to discuss the dire situation Rhode Island hospitals and staff are facing.
"Staff in hospitals are exhausted," Raimondo said. "Staff shortages are becoming a real issue."
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Currently, 84% of COVID beds at hospitals are filled with the remainder expected to be filled within a few weeks, Raimondo said. At that time, the governor said the Cranston field hospital will most likely be needed again.
She added that preparations are already being made to prepare the facility.
The state reported 936 new confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday and an additional seven deaths. There have now been 1,250 confirmed deaths and 40,764 cases, according to the Rhode Island Department of Public Health.
The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive, on average, stands at 4.7%, according to Thursday's report.
Health officials reported that more than 230 people had been admitted to Rhode Island hospitals to be treated for the virus since Sunday, compared to 163 new hospitalizations reported the week before.
"You should look at the dashboard and be alarmed," Raimondo said. "Our hospitalizations are at their highest."
Raimondo said if Rhode Islanders don't change their behavior and stop having small social gatherings, hospital staff will continue to be overwhelmed and a "total lockdown" could be imminent.
Dr. Laura Forman, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Kent Hospital, and one of the doctors who joined the governor Thursday talked about how COVID is impacting staff at all hospitals.
"This pandemic has pushed us to the brink," Forman said. "These are not just statistics and numbers. This is real."
The doctor added that the emotional aspect of the virus is also taking a toll on staff as doctors and nurses are the only ones spending time with dying patients. They are also afraid of bringing home the virus to their own loved ones, she said.
The governor briefly discussed the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and said official "rules" will be discussed next week but for the most part, she's asking people to stay home, not to travel, and to celebrate with the people you live with.