President Joe Biden personally called a Pennsylvania hospital on Wednesday to know “what the situation was” when a friend’s wife struggled to be seen by a physician at the facility overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.
“Last night … I was on the telephone with a person at an emergency hospital ward in Pennsylvania because a good friend had called and he had rushed his significant other to the emergency room because this one was having trouble breathing, had a high fever and could not really catch a breath,” Mr Biden said in his address about vaccines in Illinois.
“And they got her into the hospital, But the waiting room was so crowded. Things were so backed up, they couldn’t even get her to be seen initially. So, because I knew this person I called. I called the desk, the receiving nurse and asked what the situation was,” he added.
The US president was speaking about a new federal rule which requires companies with more than 100 or more employees to require vaccination or regular testing when he highlighted the situation at a hospital.
He added that he “wasn’t complaining” because he understands that “they’re getting the living hell kicked out of them, by the way — doctors and nurses. Some of them are just, they’re running dry.”
It is unclear if the president’s phone call to the hospital helped his friend’s wife in getting the medical attention she needed.
“To make a long story short, it took a while because all of the — not all, the vast majority of the emergency rooms and the docs were occupied taking care of Covid patients,” he said.
Mr Biden then went on to make the case for Covid vaccine mandates and asked companies to ensure that their employees are vaccinated.
“I’m calling more employers to act,” Mr Biden said. “My message is require your employees to get vaccinated. With vaccinations we’re going to beat this pandemic finally.”
The Labor Department is yet to release the details of the emergency rule which are expected to be announced in a few weeks.
The US now appears to be experiencing a slowdown in Covid-19 deaths after two months of constant surge, according to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
There has been a 12 per cent decline in seven day moving average in Covid deaths over the last two weeks since mid September.
Nevertheless, the surge in cases coupled with low vaccine rates in some parts of the country during summer has overwhelmed the hospitals, forcing the government to reinstate the mask mandates.
Mr Biden’s approval rating has slipped to 38 per cent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday, particularly over handling of Covid-19 and economy. His ratings are down from 42 per cent three weeks ago following a high of 50 per cent in February.