Virus Outbreak
FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2021, file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa. COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to where they were over the winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s case for sweeping new vaccination requirements. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
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COVID-19 cases climbing in U.S., wiping out months of progress

23 Comments
By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH, CATHY BUSSEWITZ and COLLEEN LONG

COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to levels not seen since last winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for his sweeping new vaccination requirements.

The cases — driven by the delta variant combined with resistance among some Americans to getting the vaccine — are concentrated mostly in the South.

While one-time hot spots like Florida and Louisiana are improving, infection rates are soaring in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, fueled by children now back in school, loose mask restrictions and low vaccination levels.

The dire situation in some hospitals is starting to sound like January's infection peak: Surgeries canceled in hospitals in Washington state and Utah. Severe staff shortages in Kentucky and Alabama. A lack of beds in Tennessee. Intensive care units at or over capacity in Texas.

The deteriorating picture nine months into the nation's vaccination drive has angered and frustrated medical professionals who see the heartbreak as preventable. The vast majority of the dead and the hospitalized have been unvaccinated, in what has proved to be a hard lesson for some families.

“The problem now is we have been trying to educate based on science, but I think most of the education that is happening now is based on tragedy, personal tragedy," said Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency room physician in Lexington, Kentucky.

In Kentucky, 70% of the state’s hospitals -- 66 of 96 -- are reporting critical staff shortages, the highest level yet during the pandemic, the governor said.

“Our hospitals are at the brink of collapse in many communities,” said Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner.

The U.S. is averaging over 1,800 COVID-19 deaths and 170,000 new cases per day, the highest levels respectively since early March and late January. And both figures have been on the rise over the past two weeks.

The country is still well below the terrifying peaks reached in January, when it was averaging about 3,400 deaths and a quarter-million cases per day.

The U.S. is dispensing about 900,000 shots of the vaccine per day, down from a high of 3.4 million a day in mid-April. On Friday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will meet to discuss whether the U.S. should begin dispensing booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to shore up people's protection.

On a positive note, the number of people now in the hospital with COVID-19 appears to be leveling off or even declining at around 90,000, or about where things stood in February.

Last week, the president ordered all employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccinations or weekly tests, a measure affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

“We read about and hear about and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their deathbeds among the unvaccinated over the past few weeks," Biden said in announcing the rules. "This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

The requirements have met with resistance and threats of lawsuits from Republicans.

Tennessee now ranks first in the U.S. in new cases per capita. Hundreds of students have been forced to quarantine. Some schools have closed because of staffing shortages. Others have asked to switch to remote learning.

But measures aimed at containing the virus have run into opposition. Last week, a Tennessee high school student who spoke at a school board meeting in favor of a mask mandate was heckled by adults while he talked about his grandmother dying from the virus.

Stanton, the ER doctor in Kentucky, said he has admitted families where the delta variant has swept through generations, especially if the older members are unvaccinated.

“Now in Kentucky, one-third of new cases are under age 18,” he said. Some children brought it home from summer camp and spread it to the rest of the family, and now, “between day care and schools and school activities, and friends getting together, there are just so many exposures.”

In Alabama, hundreds of COVID-19 patients fill intensive care units, and one hospital contacted 43 others in three states to find a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin DeMonia. It wasn't fast enough. The 73-year-old died Sept. 1.

“In honor of Ray, please get vaccinated if you have not, in an effort to free up resources for non-COVID related emergencies,” his family pleaded in his obituary.

In Hidalgo County, Texas, along the Mexican border, about 50 patients were in the hospital with COVID-19 on a given day in July. By early August, the number had soared to over 600.

“Back in July we were almost celebrating. Little did we know,” said Ivan Melendez, public health authority for Hidalgo County. The situation has improved somewhat, with just under 300 people in the hospital as of Monday, but ICUs are still above 90% capacity, Melendez said.

The biggest surge over the summer occurred in states that had low vaccination rates, particularly in the South, where many people rely on air conditioning and breathe recirculated air, said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. She said states farther north could see upticks as the onset of cold weather sends people indoors.

Vaccination rates are not as low in some Northern states, but “there’s still a lot of unvaccinated people out there. Delta is going to find them,” Marr said.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


23 Comments
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No wonder if you see how the american people behave.

Personal Prevention: Zero!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

In Kentucky, 70% of the state’s hospitals -- 66 of 96 -- are reporting critical staff shortages,

Perhaps it's not the best time for to force a vaccine mandate on nurses who have already said they would rather quit than take the shot.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

We are very lucky to have vaccines. It is no longer acceptable to imprison the vaccinated majority or further damage jobs, careers, livelihoods and education just to protect the wilfully unvaccinated. Extra support and protection should be reserved for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Well, we know one group that is contributing to this surge - and likely making themselves extinct in the process;

Another conservative talk radio host who urged listeners to boycott the COVID-19 vaccine has died from the disease caused by exposure to the coronavirus.

Bob Enyart, a Denver radio host and pastor, died two weeks after he and his wife were hospitalized with what his church called "severe" cases. He was 62.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/conservative-radio-hosts-anti-vaccine-die-from-covid-184420178.html

Too bad Fox News has a vaccine mandate....

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Burning Bush - Or perhaps its time to let the 12% (up to in mad right wing religious states) quit. An 88% uptake by nurses in a country where there are plenty of madcap quacks spreading poor info is pretty good. It's very clear that the VAST majority of those hospitalised are unvaccinated.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Np takers over the past several days, let's try again....

I would recommend it," Mr Trump said during an interview on Fox News Primetime on Tuesday. "I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly." He added: **"It's a great vaccine*, it's a safe vaccine and it's something that works.

Trump is urging everyone, but specifically his supporters in MAGA-world, to take the vaccine - he assures you all that it is safe and effective...

But a majority of MAGA-world think the "Trump vaccine" is fake, that it contains "mind control chips", and will make you sterile...

So isn't Trump endangering his supporters by recommending they take this clearly dangerous vaccine?

Maybe a Trump supporter here can explain this?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Wear masks and get vaccinated. If not, they should not be allowed to eat in restaurants, fly on planes, etc.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Burning Bush

Perhaps it's not the best time for to force a vaccine mandate on nurses who have already said they would rather quit than take the shot.

If they are willfully willing to risk the lives of their patients, better not to have them.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Agree that the deaths are absolutely preventable, given the wide availability of therapeutics. Ask the many countries with low vaccination rates that have delta under control.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

What are the therapeutics you are talking about? Paracetamol and Dexamethasone (for severe cases) I assume? In which case, I agree.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Happy Day

Agree that the deaths are absolutely preventable, given the wide availability of therapeutics. Ask the many countries with low vaccination rates that have delta under control.

So none then.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

we must protect the vaccinated!

umm...doesnt the vaccine do that?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Blacklabel

we must protect the vaccinated!

umm...doesnt the vaccine do that?

I guess you don't really get it. Let me explain.

If one person gets vaccinated, that's good for him. If 50% of people get vaccinated, that's good for the community, it will slow transmission, but it won't stop the spread. If everyone gets vaccinated, that stops viral transmission in its tracks. Somewhere in the 80% range is probably need for herd immunity.

So the more people get vaccinated, the more those people help themselves, but even better, they help everybody around them.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to levels not seen since last winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for his sweeping new vaccination requirements.

"Bolstering?" I would say they underline the weakness of the "operation warpspeed" vaccines. Same in Israel and Gibraltar, btw..... the most vaccinated places on earth all have new infections.

A sound public health policy would push for isolation of the very vulnarable groups and developeing good treatment protocols, instead obesessively focussing on vaccinating everyone.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Sal Affist

Besides being unvaccinated, many Americans are also obese and have other comorbidities.

Been saying that for a long time. Once the dust of all these conflicting statistics settles, the best correlation with with the health of the general population.

Notwithstanding so-called 'herd immunity', COVID19 will be culling the herd for a long time to come, I'm sorry to say. Americans have had 18 months to get healthier if they didn't want to get a vaccine.

It is definitely going to be endemic. And these ill-advised lockdown do not contribute to public health, to the contrary.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

COVID in children: Infections skyrocket 30X, now account for 30% of cases

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/09/covid-in-children-infections-skyrocket-30x-now-account-for-30-of-cases/

Get vaccinated or stay home.

They story acts like there only idiots living in the southern USA. We certainly have our share and some of the elected leaders are certainly showing their partisanship over COVID, but there are also ~50-60% who aren't idiots, got vaccinated when it was available, are wearing masks, being socially distant and following medical expert advice. But news stories about smart people, following guidelines doesn't sell papers or get clicks, so you won't see that.

Just look at the FLA governor. He learned from the Ex-prez that lying and getting people sick didn't impact his base at all. Lots of people want "us vs them" adversarial politics. Sensational lies cause clicks. Clicks get advertisers. Advertisers bring in revenue. If we stop clicking and ignore the idiots, maybe fact based news can return?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zaphod

"Bolstering?" I would say they underline the weakness of the "operation warpspeed" vaccines. Same in Israel and Gibraltar, btw..... the most vaccinated places on earth all have new infections.

In what delusional universe is Israel the most vaccinated place on earth? At 63% it is lower than the UK!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

2020hindsights

If one person gets vaccinated, that's good for him. If 50% of people get vaccinated, that's good for the community, it will slow transmission, but it won't stop the spread. If everyone gets vaccinated, that stops viral transmission in its tracks.

n what universe does the mRNA injection stop the spread? We now know that the vaccinated both get and spread the infection. Which makes the population argument completely meaningless.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

2020hindsights

In what universe does the mRNA injection stop the spread? We now know that the vaccinated both get and spread the infection.

In this one.

Sure these vaccines are less effective against the Delta variant, but that just means that the percentage needed to be vaccinated is higher. Basically, R needs to be less than 1, and you will see the effect. Basic science really.

Things aren't absolute. Vaccinated people can get and spread the infection, but at 1/5 the rate of unvaccinated. That is the key nuance that you miss if you look at it in black and white terms.

Which makes the population argument completely meaningless.

Not at all. Even if herd immunity isn't achieved because some selfish individuals don't get the vaccine, it slows transmission. And the benefits get better and better the more people are vaccinated. At no cost to anyone.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The rational majority grows weary of the excuses and bald-faced lies ginned up by the ignorant, conspiracy-addled minority that are THE vector behind the virus’ spread.

Take the vaccination or retire from public life. No passport, no air travel, no stadium concerts, no NFL, no college football, NO NASCAR.

We are tired of your pathetic excuses and false equivalence. You who refuse to get vaccinated are the problem.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

GdTokyo

The rational majority grows weary of the excuses and bald-faced lies ginned up by the ignorant, conspiracy-addled minority that are THE vector behind the virus’ spread.

.....and this demonization of a dissidents is precisely what is so disheartening about the current politicization of the virus.

Your rant could be verbatim about critics of the CCP in China.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

ZaphodToday  01:44 pm JST

.....and this demonization of a dissidents is precisely what is so disheartening about the current politicization of the virus.

Your rant could be verbatim about critics of the CCP in China.

Lmao!

Conservatives never want to take responsibility for their choices. Instead, they just run around screaming in faux outrage.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

.....and this demonization of a dissidents is precisely what is so disheartening about the current politicization of the virus.

Your rant could be verbatim about critics of serial killers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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