Health care workers overwhelmed by record COVID hospitalizations

▶ Watch Video: Record coronavirus hospitalizations overwhelm health care workers

South Dakota and Indiana are now ranked first and second, respectively, for the highest rates of coronavirus hospitalizations per capita in the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

As the virus rages in South Dakota, so does the debate over the wearing of face coverings. In Rapid City, a city council meeting was held Monday to discuss a proposed mask mandate.

“It’s just a mask – wear it,” one person said at the meeting. “This is a public health crisis. I don’t know what else to say.”

“When did government get to dictate what we wear?” another person asked.

Hundreds of people who couldn’t attend the meeting shared their thoughts in online comments. In the end, the ordinance passed in a 9-1 vote and will have a second reading next Monday, CBS affiliate KELO-TV reported.

Indiana has set another record. Coronavirus hospitalizations in the state have risen from 919 on October 1 to 3,460 on Tuesday – nearly quadrupling in just two months, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Scott Samlan is an emergency room doctor in Hammond, Indiana, near Chicago. CBS News first spoke with him in March.

“This is the most scared I’ve ever been being an E.R. doctor,” Samlan said on March 31.

That was at the start of the pandemic. And now, Samlan said, “It’s been nine months and we’re still at it. I’m emotionally and mentally fatigued – and physically. I think everybody is.”

In rural Missouri, a 25-bed hospital is overwhelmed. Meanwhile, Florida has become the third state to surpass 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Health care workers in New York are hitting the picket line. More than 200 nurses at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital are on strike to demand better working conditions, CBS News York reported.

“We don’t have enough staffing so we can’t take adequate care of the patients,” said Melissa Ricketts, a registered nurse at the hospital.

In Michigan, Patricia and Leslie McWaters were married nearly 50 years. Family members said both were taken to the same hospital where Patricia worked as a nurse, and both died at exactly 4:23 p.m. – two days before Thanksgiving.

On the COVID-19 vaccine front, members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practice officially voted Tuesday to recommend that health care workers and long-term care facility residents should be the first Americans to receive the shots.

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