(CNN) – With the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 sweeping the country this summer, healthcare workers and officials find themselves facing a crisis experienced last year when hospitals struggled to manage a influx of patients.
In the southeast, Georgia is now experiencing its highest number of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, matching peaks in January, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Dr James Black, director of emergency services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Ga., Told CNN’s Amara Walker on Saturday that her hospital had nearly doubled its intensive care capacity, but was still facing an overflow of patients.
“The emergency department is full and the hospital is full,” said Black. “Every time a patient comes out, we have patients waiting on these beds.”
The city of Albany, located in the southwest of the state, experienced one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the country at the start of the pandemic. Now hospitalizations eclipse those earlier figures, Black said, calling it “disheartening” to face his return as health workers are once again on the front lines facing the daily risk of infection.
“We were frustrated, a little baffled, especially given what we went through at the start of the pandemic,” said Black, also noting that Georgia is behind the national average for vaccination rates.
Georgia has fully vaccinated 42.1% of its population, according to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while nationally, 53% of the population is fully vaccinated.
“We were a little surprised and disappointed with the lack of participation. So, you know, we had to redouble our efforts and pick ourselves up and certainly, we had hoped not to have the same discussion 18 months after the start. But here we are, apparently in worse shape than we initially were. “
The total number of hospitalizations in the United States nearly tripled in July and doubled again in August, according to HHS data, but national weekly figures rose only 2% on Thursday, a potential sign of improvement to the horizon. But it does little to relieve hot spot hospitals to see intensive care beds filling up.
“We are dangerously close … to have, in certain regions of the country, so close to having a full occupation, that you are going to be in a situation where you are going to be in a situation where you are going to have to make a very difficult choice”, Dr Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.
More than 102,000 people nationwide are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to HHS data on Saturday, with more than 25,000 in intensive care.
“What we really should be doing, and hopefully we are doing it, is do all we can to alleviate the number of people infected and in need of hospitalization and intensive care beds,” said Fauci, director of the National Allergy Institute. and infectious diseases.
In Hawaii, the state’s health department on Wednesday reported 13 new deaths from Covid-19, its highest single-day death figure in the entire pandemic. A number of restrictions on state-owned enterprises were reinstated in August, and Gov. David Ige urged out-of-state visitors not to travel to the islands unless they have urgent business. .
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear called for a special session of the state general assembly on Tuesday regarding Covid-19, with the aim of extending the state of emergency declared by the state until January 15 and review executive, agency and cabinet orders.
“The Commonwealth is in a state of emergency. The Delta variant is spreading at a rate never seen before – impacting businesses, closing schools and worse, causing serious illness and death, ”Beshear said on Saturday.
Authorities concerned about Labor Day weekend
Given the recent increase, public health officials are also worried about the Labor Day weekend and the possibility that it will worsen an already dire situation.
CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday asked unvaccinated Americans not to travel for the holiday weekend. Those who are fully vaccinated can travel with caution, but current transmission rates mean they too should take the risk of travel into consideration.
“I know we are all looking forward to the long weekend,” Mayor Derek Kawakami of Kauai County, Hawaii, said at a press conference on Friday. But healthcare workers will not be able to celebrate, he noted, “because they are busy caring for our patients.”
“Now what we choose to do over the next 72-96 hours is going to determine a lot of things over the next two to three months, if we start to keep burning our hospital systems, burning our healthcare workers, to keep our kids in school, run our businesses and move forward and coexist with Covid-19. ”
“And while we want everyone to have a good time and hope to see people surfing, spending time with their families… we want to remind people that the steps to take are simple,” he said. . “Wear your mask indoors, avoid large gatherings, and if you do, do it outdoors.”
Least-vaccinated areas of California face critical care capacity issues
California’s San Joaquin Valley region has reached the threshold to enter “emergency protocols,” with less than 10% of staffed intensive care beds remaining for three consecutive days, the Department of Health said on Friday. Public health (CDPH).
All acute care general hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley area with intensive care bed capacity must accept patients referred when “clinically appropriate” and directed by state health authorities or the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, with the aim of finding open beds for patients in the area. if applicable.
It is the first region of the state to trigger the public health order, according to the CDPH. The region, which includes 12 counties in the central part of the state, had only 9.4% of the adult intensive care beds available on Saturday, far less than the 20% available in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The protocol is expected to be reassessed Thursday, according to the department.
The increase in the number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in the region comes as the vaccination rate in the region lags behind more urban coastal areas of the state.
Less than 50% of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in much of the agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, according to CDC data, with less than a third of all residents fully vaccinated in the Kings County.
“As the state strives to further increase the number of eligible Californians vaccinated, we must take action to protect the unvaccinated who are at higher risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19 “the CRPD said in a statement. “This action will ensure that the state’s health care delivery system is prepared and can respond appropriately.”
Vaccinations for those who attend schools essential, some states say
More children needed emergency room visits and hospitalizations in states with low immunization rates, according to a recent CDC study. And some states are working to get ahead of the latest wave by getting as many eligible people vaccinated as possible.
Washington state, which implemented a vaccination mandate in October for teachers and staff, sees “great news” regarding vaccination efforts for young people, says Health Secretary Umair Shah, Thursday. At least 41% of children ages 12 to 15 are vaccinated, and just under half of the state’s 16 to 17 age group are also fully immunized.
“Washington schools have the structure, protocol, and people necessary for a successful in-person education,” Shah said.
In Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker is extending the deadline for teachers, students and healthcare workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The state’s mandate for these people to have at least one dose of vaccination, originally slated to go into effect on September 5, is pushed back to September 19 at the request of representatives from the healthcare industry and organizations. educational.
“As hospitals and schools move forward in good faith, this extension ensures that they are prepared to meet this requirement to better protect our most vulnerable residents and children who are not yet eligible for vaccination,” said Pritzker said in a written statement Friday.
Employees will only be required to have a single injection by September 19 – with a second injection within 30 days, if necessary – but those who are not fully vaccinated should be tested for Covid-19 at at least once a week. Workers must provide proof of vaccination to their employers.
Exemptions are allowed for people with a medical or religious objection to the vaccine, but these employees must also undergo a weekly Covid-19 test.
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