A second wave of Covid-19 is ripping through Brazil, pushing hospitals and ICUs toward collapse and claiming record numbers of daily deaths.
While a new variant of the coronavirus spreads throughout the country, many Brazilians continue to defy mask mandates mobility restrictions following the example of President Jair Bolsonaro, who recently said people need to "stop being sissies" and "whining" about the virus.
The consequences of that combination are deadly, experts say. "We are going through the worst-case scenario since the beginning of the pandemic. You just have to look at the trends in the average number of deaths," Gonzalo Vecina Neto, a Sao Paulo University professor of Public Health, recently told Reuters television. "This could have been avoided and the most important factor is gatherings."
Brazil has broken its own record three times this month for number of deaths in a 24-hour period. On Wednesday, Brazil's Health Ministry registered a devastating new high -- 2,286 lives lost to the virus. In total, more than 270,000 people are known to have died due to Covid-19, making Brazil's the second-highest national death toll after the United States.
In 22 of Brazil's 26 states, ICU occupancy has surpassed 80%. In the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, hospital patients must line up to wait for beds as occupancy rates in intensive care units soar past 103%. The neighboring state of Santa Catarina has already surpassed 99% occupancy and is on the verge of collapsing, as cases surge throughout the state.
One hospital in Santa Catarina's capital, Florianopolis, is already beyond capacity. David Molin, the hospital's head nurse, tells CNN his team is exhausted and overwhelmed.
"I was here during the first wave and it wasn't like this. We are completely overwhelmed, with our occupancy rate at over 100%. Many of those patients who are waiting for an ICU don't make it," Molina told CNN during a telephone interview. (CNN)