COVID-19 Hospitalisations Rising in the US Photo: USANews.Com

COVID-19: Hospitalisations rise as authorities warn of ‘imminent’ cyberthreat to US hospitals

*FBI warns it has ‘credible information’ hackers are targeting the healthcare sector using malware, as virus cases rise across states in the US

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In connection with the rising cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States (US), Dr. Amesh Adalja,  Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has discussed the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals, concerns about Coronavirus reinfections, and the timeline for a vaccine in a recent video.

It was learnt that COVID-19 hospitalisations have risen at least 10% in the past week in 32 states and the nation’s capital Washington, D.C., as the month-old viral surge increasingly weighs on America’s health-care system.

According to COVID Tracking Project data, current hospitalisations soared 68% in New Mexico, 50% in Wyoming and 38% in Connecticut, among other notable increases, South Dakota, Montana and North Dakota have the most current patients per capita, the data show.

Nationally, current hospitalisations with COVID-19 have climbed 37% to 42,917 in the past three weeks, after months of decline.

But they are still about 28% lower than they were during July’s Sun Belt surge, even as cases have risen to a record, agency report said.

About 6% of America’s inpatient beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Coronavirus patients are taking up 10% or more of beds in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin.

New Jersey on Tuesday reported 957 patients, the most since July 8. New York City, which had more than 12,000 hospitalised from COVID-19 at the peak of the outbreak, had 465 hospitalised as of Sunday, October 25, according to the state.

The U.S. reported 66,662 new Covid-19 cases Monday, bringing the seven-day average to a new high of 69,950, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day average of newly reported deaths rose to 798 Monday, close to the highest in five weeks, according to Johns Hopkins.

Overall, more than 225,000 Americans have died in the pandemic.

According to COVID Tracking Project data, Kansas and Wyoming reported record single-day cases Monday, while Connecticut reported 2,047 cases Monday, the third-highest tally of the pandemic.

As a region, the Midwest’s seven-day average of cases took a very slight tick down, but is still near a record.

Meanwhile, the US security authorities Wednesday, October 28, warned of an “imminent cybercrime threat” to hospitals and healthcare providers, urging them to increase their protection.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and two other government agencies in an advisory said they had “credible information” that hackers were targeting the healthcare sector using malware, “often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and the disruption of healthcare services.”

ConsumerConnect reports the latest threat comes as US hospitals are yet contending with increasing hospitalisations as the numbers of Coronavirus cases spike, having killed more than 226,000 people across most of the states in the country.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software used by cybercriminals to encrypt users’ files until a ransom is paid.

Healthcare institutions was said to have been frequent victims of ransomware for several years in the US and globally.

In September, a suspected ransomware attack disrupted patient care at a large chain of hospitals and clinics operating in the US and Britain.

The Federal agencies urged US healthcare providers to take “timely and reasonable precautions” to protect their networks.

Healthcare providers are also encouraged to patch their operating systems, software and firmware as soon as possible, and to conduct antivirus and anti-malware scans regularly, according to report.

The agencies further recommended changing passwords regularly and using multi-factor authentication.

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