Woman Forced to Wait More Than Two Days at Hospital's ER Amid COVID Surge

A family in Tennessee has claimed that a relative had to wait for more than 50 hours at a hospital for treatment, amid reports of long waiting times in medical facilities across the U.S. due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID.

The woman, 66, who has been kept nameless by her family, went to an emergency room at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, at around 12:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, but was apparently not admitted to a room for treatment until Monday afternoon after waiting for more than 50 hours.

The woman was referred to the hospital after suffering from an infection on her leg, with the woman's sister Liza Lofton telling CBS affiliate WREG that from Saturday lunchtime until Monday afternoon she was in the waiting area being looked after by family members on alternate shifts.

Lofton confirmed that her sister was looked at by staff members during this time, but only for them to check her vitals, order CAT scans and do blood work, before they did "wrap her legs because they were leaking. They had fluid coming from them."

The 66-year-old was finally admitted into a room in the hospital more than 50 hours after she arrived, and her family said that it has made the ordeal public so that others are aware of the delays if they need to go to the emergency room.

The long waiting times in Tennessee hospitals were confirmed in August by Dr. Michelle Taylor, the director of the Shelby County Health Department, who said that the area, which includes the city of Memphis, has received several similar reports.

"We have our emergency department directors telling people, 'Listen, waits in the emergency department are 36 to 48 hours.' I've heard reports as high as 60 hours. That's almost three days waiting to just be seen," Taylor said at a task force briefing on August 19, according to WREG.

"I'm seeing it firsthand," she added. "It's unfortunate, so my thing is take every safeguard to protect your health and to prevent yourself from having to come to the ER, because if you come, nine times out of 10, you better be prepared to wait, and at this point, it's not waiting for hours but days."

The delays in providing treatment to patients in hospitals across the U.S. has come amid a dramatic rise in COVID cases in several states sparked by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Like several other states, most notably Florida and Texas, Tennessee has been badly affected by rising cases and on Tuesday it reported a seven-day rolling average of 652 new cases a day.

The Delta variant, first identified in India, has been surging in the U.S. over the last two months and is now responsible for the vast majority of new COVID cases in the country, with booster vaccines expected to be recommended for U.S. citizens in response.

In August, a COVID patient in Oregon died while waiting for several hours for an ICU bed to open up in the emergency room, with the Douglas County COVID-19 Recovery Team confirming that "there weren't any beds available for this patient. We didn't have enough."

Last week, an 11-year-old boy had to delay getting his cancer treatment at an Indiana hospital because it was overrun with COVID cases, said his mother who told Newsweek that a similar incident had also occurred in June.

Newsweek has contacted the Shelby County Health Department for comment.

COVID ICU treatment
A medical staff member tends to a Covid-19 patient under respiratory assistance, in a room of the intensive care unit of the Pierre Zobda-Quitman University hospital (CHU) in Fort-de-France on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, on August 29, 2021. A family in Tennessee has said that a relative had to wait more than 50 hours at a hospital for treatment for a leg infection, amid reports of long waiting times due to the spread of the Delta variant. Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images