Leading U.S. hospital nearly overwhelmed amid surging COVID-

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Amid surging COVID-19 cases and an incompetent response by the government, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a leading U.S. hospital in handling dangerous and unusual diseases, has been nearly overwhelmed, according to a media report.

With the country's only federal quarantine facility and a large bio-containment unit, the hospital in Omaha, Nebraska is believed as the best-prepared hospital in the United States to handle a pandemic, according to the report released Friday by The Atlantic.

Its staff began specifically preparing for emerging infections after the SARS outbreak in 2003 and it has detailed pandemic plans as well as experience in handling infectious diseases such as Ebola, said the report.

However, the hospital now is "on an absolutely catastrophic path," Angela Hewlett, an infectious-disease specialist, was quoted by The Atlantic as saying.

As some 2,400 Nebraskans test positive for the virus every day, the hospital has to convert an entire building into a COVID-19 facility with 10 units in total, of which three provide intensive care and one provides "comfort care," said the report.

The surging COVID-19 cases have nearly pushed the hospital to its capacity ceiling. With the hospital short-staffed and beds limited, patients with strokes and other urgent diseases are not getting the normal level of attention, according to the report.

"We're watching a system breaking in front of us and we're helpless to stop it," critical-care physician Kelly Cawcutt was quoted by the report as saying.

Dan Johnson, another critical-care doctor, said what makes the situation worse "is that it was preventable."

"The coronavirus is not unstoppable" but the U.S. administration "never mounted a serious effort to stop it" and "created a situation in which hospitals could not possibly succeed," said the report, adding that on Tuesday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts once again refused to issue a statewide mask mandate.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has topped 12 million with over 256,000 deaths, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

"We can prepare over and over for a wave of patients, but we can't prepare for a tsunami," Cawcutt was quoted by the report as saying.