As hospital numbers fall, fatigued staff get relief at last

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. has plummeted by 80,000 in six weeks, and 17% of the nation’s adult population has gotten at least one dose of vaccine. The improvements offer some relief to front-line workers. St. Louis respiratory therapist Joe Kowalczyk recalled that when COVID-19 patients were inundating the region’s hospitals, colleagues arriving for yet another grueling shift with a dwindling supply of ventilators would often glance at their assignments and cry. On his most recent shift at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, there were only about 20 coronavirus patients, down from as many as 100 at the peak of the surge.