White House officials said Thursday that vaccinations are starting to rise in some states where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, a sign that the summer spike is drawing the attention of vaccinated Americans as hospitals in the south are overwhelmed with patients.
Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zientes told reporters that the few states with the highest rates of new infections were vaccinated more often than the country as a whole. Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada as examples.
“The fourth spike is real, and the numbers are pretty scary right now,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on a radio show in New Orleans. Edwards, a Democrat, added: “There is no doubt that we are going in the wrong direction and we are going there in a hurry.”
Louisiana reported 2,843 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the day after 5,388 cases were reported, the third-highest rate since the pandemic began. Over the past month, the number of hospitalizations has skyrocketed, from 242 on June 19 to 913, according to the latest report. Fifteen new deaths were recorded Thursday.
According to the state health department, only 36% of Louisiana’s population is fully vaccinated. Nationally, 56.3% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ali Neal, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Health, said the state has seen a “small jump” in vaccinations recently, adding that the details will be available on Friday.
Warner Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Ochsner Health, which serves Louisiana and Mississippi, said the number of people needing vaccinations has increased by 10-15% in the past couple of weeks. He administered vaccines in churches, at the New Orleans airport, at basketball games, and at the mall.
“We view every person currently vaccinated as a victory,” said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, director of infection prevention and control for the 40 hospital system, noting that she is using mobile nurses and that projections show her wards are intensive. therapy may fill at current infection rates.
Dr. Catherine O’Neill, chief physician and infectious disease specialist at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, said Thursday that the most shocking aspect of the surge was its speed. According to her, the number of cases increased approximately threefold in a week.
On Sunday, the medical center stopped accepting transfers of coronavirus patients from hospitals in other parts of the state because they simply didn’t have the capacity, she said.
In Missouri, second only to Arkansas and Louisiana in the number of new cases per capita in the past 14 days, officials have launched a vaccination incentive program that includes $ 10,000 in prizes for 900 lottery winners. The state is about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who received at least one shot.
Hospitals in the Springfield area are under strain, reaching pandemic peaks and near-pandemic large numbers of patients.
“Younger, relatively healthy and not vaccinated. If this applies to you, consider getting vaccinated, ”tweeted Eric Frederick, chief administrative officer of Mercy Hospital in Springfield, noting that half of COVID-19 patients are between the ages of 21 and 59 and only 2% of them. the group is vaccinated.
The surge, which began in the southwestern part of the state, where some counties have teenage vaccination rates, has begun to spread to the Kansas City area, including the Medical Research Center.
“I don’t want to risk my life any longer just because people don’t want to get vaccinated or listen to what the healthcare providers recommend,” laments Pascaline Mukhindura, a registered nurse who has worked on COVID- treatment at the hospital. 19 units over a year.
“Many of them don’t even believe in COVID-19 from the very beginning. This is incredibly frustrating. You are helping someone who does not even believe that the disease they have is real, ”Mukhindura said.
Dr. Jason Wilson, an emergency physician at Tampa General Hospital, also watched with disappointment as the number of cases increased. In contrast to previous periods of the pandemic, when many patients were in their 70s, he saw the average age of patients drop to their mid-40s.
“I spent a lot of time this fall and last summer saying, ‘We have to do these things, these social mitigation strategies, until we get this vaccine. Just hold on, ”Wilson said.
Initially, hospitals were encouraging as the number of cases dropped. But then he said, “It just went awry.”
A conservative Utah spokesman said on Wednesday that nearly 300 people have been hospitalized for the virus, the highest in five months. The capacity of intensive care units was 81.5%. Health officials have renewed their calls for residents to get vaccinated.
One of Arizona’s largest hospital systems announced its call for vaccinations, citing an increase in the number of seriously ill COVID-19 in just a few weeks. Dr. Michael White of Valleywise Health said doctors mainly treat people with mild symptoms, but that began to change two weeks ago. Patients are now being seriously ill.
“This delta is currently affecting mostly unvaccinated people,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases in the health policy department at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.
This variant, which originated in India, currently accounts for approximately 83% of the coronavirus samples genetically identified in the United States. It is the predominant strain in all regions of the country and continues to “spread with incredible efficiency,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walenski told reporters about this at the White House.
She said the mutation is more aggressive and much more transmissible, calling it “one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of.”
“We are experiencing another turning point in this pandemic,” she warned. “We need to unite as one nation.”
The CDC has not changed its guidance that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks. But in Georgia, Atlanta public schools announced Thursday that they will introduce a “universal mask wearing” policy in all school system buildings when fall classes begin.
Just 18% of the Atlanta school system’s students are fully vaccinated, and 58% of its employees said they are either fully vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated, officials said.
“Given our low vaccination rates and the growing spread of the virus in the population, the CDC recognizes that universal masking would be worthwhile,” the school system said in a statement.
In Arkansas, a group of Democratic lawmakers have called on the governor and Republicans who control the Legislature to lift the state’s ban on schools and local governments requiring people to wear masks.