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Hospitals across U.S. report sharp drop in new COVID patients, as country nears 500k deaths

Some hospital staffs are feeling a moment of ease for the first time since last spring

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Elmhurst hospital
Elmhurst hospital in Queens, New York
(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Updated: February 22, 2021 - 11:42am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in the U.S. is dropping rapidly, as the infection rate in past weeks has also declined, as the total number of infections in the county nears the 500,000.

The number of U.S. patients hospitalized currently is now just below 56,200, the lowest number since early November. 

The in-patient number declines as the virus death toll is expected to hit 500,000 this week.

Expert have given several explanation for the decline and slowing numbers, foremost that more Americans are now vaccinated, especially among the elderly, the most at risk to be hospitalized and die from the virus.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, the number of new coronavirus admits has fallen to about 10-15 a day, which is a decline of about half from early January, according to the director of the hospital's group that tracks coronavirus hospitalizations. 

The decline has brought relief to intensive care staffers, having worked on the frontlines of the pandemic now for about a year. 

"People are smiling. They are optimistic. They're making plans for the future," one medical director in New Mexico told the New York Times

In Springfield, Missouri, a medical staff emptied the emergency coronavirus ICU wing that was built last spring.

"We have not defeated this disease, but the closing of this unit, at least for now, is a tremendous symbolic victory," said Steve Edwards, the hospital system's chief executive. 

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