Inside an Oklahoma hospital quickly getting overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients

Comanche County Memorial Hospital granted ABC News unprecedented access to its COVID-19 wards. Staff say they’re running out of beds and equipment. Suzanne Sims visits her husband Curtis in the ICU.
9:42 | 11/19/20

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Transcript for Inside an Oklahoma hospital quickly getting overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients
Hey, babe. I love you. Reporter: Suzanne Simms is desperate to believe her husband, Curtis, can hear her. You keep fighting. You keep fighting. You got this. We've been through a lot. Reporter: This is the first time she's seen him since she dropped him off at the hospital ten days ago. Through a snarl of tubes and IV drips, she clutches his swollen hand. Fully aware she's getting a moment that so many thousands of families have missed, a chance to see their loved ones in the icu. I can't believe I actually got to come see you. Reporter: Comanche county memorial hospital in lauten, Oklahoma, just one in a growing pool of health care systems across the country on the brink, close to breaking. There are more than 76,000 covid patients currently hospitalized in the U.S., more than at any other point in the pandemic. We knew this was coming for months and we didn't build up our stock of ppe, we didn't prepare our hospitals and icus. Now, unfortunately, they are facing a really large crunch across pretty much all parts of the country. Reporter: The U.S. Has surpassed 11 million cases so far. Just tonight, that new grim milestone. More than 250,000 lives lost to the coronavirus. We're losing 1,000 to 1,500 Americans every single day. I expect between now and end of January, we're going to probably lose another 100,000 Americans. Reporter: Mere in lauten, comanche county memorial granted ABC news unprecedented access to its covid wards. Dr. Scott Michener is the chief medical officer. Why are you fired up? Because you see what we're dealing with. You're here. I'm glad you're here. You're seeing what we're dealing with. And everyone in the whole country is dealing with this. And we have no help. We have no support. Reporter: Oklahoma is one of only ten states that still does not have a statewide mask Dr. Michener's hospital is running out of beds and but the patients keep coming. And he can see the cliff's edge. How far do you think you are from the breaking point? We had a day last week where we were down to one ventilator. We had a day this weekend where we had to pull a ventilator out of an ambulance. Reporter: The city of lauten has fewer than 100,000 people. Early in the pandemic we saw massive hospitals in America's biggest cities struggle to keep up with the influx of patients. Smaller cities and towns learned lessons from the first wave and tried to adapt. Most covid unit moved the pump outside. As you can see, the nurses are hanging their drips out here, running them in. Every time they go in the room, it takes ppe. So they can manage this stuff out here. Reporter: Now as covid is slamming into the heartland, Dr. Michener knows the cavalry isn't coming. Because every other hospital in the region is fighting its own You're well over capacity. Yeah. What happens if a bus crashes on the interstate? Then you see all these people that are doing the groundwork. Maybe more. All you can do. This is what keeps you up at night? I'm not sleeping very well these days. Hard. You're seeing it. Reporter: Suzanne and Curtis have lived here since forever. They raised their family in this small town. After 37 years of marriage, this is not how she envisioned their golden years. We're fighting a battle. And we need to come together and work together. Do the things, wear a mask, wash your hands. Reporter: 57-year-old Curtis startedeeling ill on Halloween. He initially waved off going to the hospital. Until about a week later when Suzanne says he was suffocating right in front of her. You don't know if the next time he takes that deep breath, is that it? Reporter: Following hospital rules, she had to drop him off at the E.R. Fully aware she may never see him again. You just go to the parking lo and cry. Reporter: In a few hospitals, that is changing. When we sat down to talk with Suzanne, we were actually just one floor below Curtis' room. He's now on a ventilator. So the hospital has started to allow some visitors to visit loved ones. They told us that they would actually allow you to get into ppe and be able to see your husband, Curtis. If that's okay with you. Yes. It would be great. We wish we could let everyone see everyone. But the way the disease process is, we just can't. It hard time, it's a lonely illness, they're dying alone. We're doing it because we think it's the right thing to do. Reporter: The process begins in the hallway with a deep breath. It's almost time. What are you feeling? My heart's jumping out of my skin. Reporter: We have to get into full ppe. God bless. Thank you. Scary. It's more than scary. Reporter: Before she can go in, Suzanne is debriefed by Dr. Mier and Curtis' medical teams. I want you to know he's probably not going to respond, because when the breathing tube's down their throat, we sedate them. There's going to be tubes and lines everywhere. Reporter: Unbeknownst to us, before their reunion the team has to increase Curtis' sedation and turn the vent up to 90%. He is not doing well. Hey, babe. I love you. The kids came over. The grandbabies sure missed you at the house. They're ready for you to come home. I just love you so much. Reporter: Suzanne soaks up every second with her husband. Thank you, lord. Thank you. Lord, raise us up, please. Don't you quit fighting on me. Need you at home. Need you home. How are you feeling, interview Zan? Actually, I'm feeling a little relieved. I got to see him. Kind of know where he's at, who he's with, and -- He's with the best. He is. He is with the best. And I think -- it just -- I don't know. It makes my heart a little happy. Not that he's here, but just to be able to see him. Reporter: In the same hospital we visit Alan Mccall. Hey, judge. How you doing? Reporter: A 66-year-old retired judge with covid. He's now sitting up, perusing his release papers. I got really sick. Reporter: He ended up in intensive care on the same night that multiple patients flatlined in the rooms around him. I quit counting 17 code blues because I thought I was getting ready to be 18. I just had tears running down my face because I didn't know how my family would deal with that. I saw those nurs just continually charge back in there every time. Just incredible courage. Reporter: Four of the patients would die. Having been surrounded by death, he begs for folks to trust science. This is not political. This covid virus will kill you. It will kill your family. I don't know how we ever got away from not wearing these. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Reporter: All across the country, the demand for testing is soaring. I passed the two-hour mark an hour ago. Reporter: Hours-long lines in state after state after state. Tonight good news. Pfizer revealing new data showing its vaccine is 95% effective and works across all age groups, races, and ethnicities. In the coming days the drugmaker says it will submit for an emergency use authorization from the fda. This is the light at the end of the tunnel. Is coming. Things are going to get better. The problem is that it's going to take awhile. It's going to take two or three months before vaccines really start getting out there. And probably six months before the majority of Americans can get vaccinated. This is the time to hunker down. Breathing apparatus. Reporter: In the meantime, judge Mccall hopes that common sense and those mask rules will keep most people safe. Thank you all so much. Take care. Reporter: He's finally no longer contagious. Leavinthe hospital with those thumbs up and a sense of awe for its medical staff. Just cannot compliment these young folks enough. Just can't do it. I'm fortunate, very fortunate, that I'm walking out of here.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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