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US coronavirus hospitalizations hit new record, up 23% in one week

At least two states are now implementing mask mandates they have long sought to avoid as hospitals quickly fill up.

Hospitalizations in the U.S. from the coronavirus Monday were up 23% in the past week while those in intensive care or on a ventilator increased at a faster pace. It highlights the concerns by hospital systems nationwide that they may be overrun, if they haven't already.

The COVID Tracking Project said a record-breaking 73,014 were in the hospital with COVID-19 Monday, up from 59,275 one week earlier.

ICU patients in that same time frame rose from 11,533 to 14,313, an increase of 24%. The number of those on a ventilator jumped from 3,110 to 4,157, a jump of 34%.

The U.S. has logged more than 11.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, Johns Hopkins University reported Monday, with more than 247,000 deaths. Both numbers lead the world.

North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, who has resisted a mask mandate for months, put one in place over the weekend, amid a severe outbreak in the state. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds took a similar action and enacted a limited version of a mask mandate Monday.

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home order went into effect Monday. Only essential businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will be open.

Washington's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee ordered gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums and zoos to shut down indoor operations. Stores must limit capacity to 25%.

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned she has the authority to issue a second stay-at-home order to curb the spiking coronavirus if necessary. Over the weekend, Whitmer announced that Michigan high schools and colleges must halt in-person classes, restaurants must stop indoor dining and entertainment businesses must close for three weeks. Gathering sizes also will be tightened.

Still, several other governors were taking incremental steps, or resisting even those — continuing to emphasize “personal responsibility” rather than government edicts.

Vice President Mike Pence sounded an upbeat tone Monday on a call with governors, saying that the government is ready to help states where hospitals are nearing capacity and emphasizing that vaccines are coming.