As hospitals across Northeast Ohio and the nation continue to be slammed by COVID-19, President Joe Biden is apparently gearing up to send in reinforcements.
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.
“Our staff, they are frustrated,” said Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, a Florida hospital that is canceling elective surgeries and procedures after the number of mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 inpatients at its two campuses jumped to 134, up from a low of 16 in mid-May.
“They are tired. They are thinking this is déjà vu all over again, and there is some anger because we know that this is a largely preventable situation, and people are not taking advantage of the vaccine.”
Across the U.S., the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Health officials blame the delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. Just 56.2% of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Louisiana, health officials reported 5,388 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday — the third-highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. Hospitalizations for the disease rose to 844 statewide, up more than 600 since mid-June. New Orleans leaders urged people to resume wearing masks indoors.
Utah reported having 295 people hospitalized due to the virus, the highest number since February. The state has averaged about 622 confirmed cases per day over the last week, about triple the infection rate at its lowest point in early June. Health data shows the surge is almost entirely connected to unvaccinated people.
“It is like seeing the car wreck before it happens,” said Dr. James Williams, a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Texas Tech, who has recently started treating more COVID-19 patients. “None of us want to go through this again.”
He said the patients are younger — many in their 20s, 30s and 40s — and overwhelmingly unvaccinated.
As lead pastor of one of Missouri’s largest churches, Jeremy Johnson has heard the reasons congregants don’t want the COVID-19 vaccine. He wants them to know it’s not only OK to get vaccinated, it’s what the Bible urges.
“I think there is a big influence of fear,” said Johnson, whose Springfield-based church also has a campus in Nixa and another about to open in Republic. “A fear of trusting something apart from scripture, a fear of trusting something apart from a political party they’re more comfortable following. A fear of trusting in science. We hear that: ‘I trust in God, not science.’ But the truth is science and God are not something you have to choose between.”
Now many churches in southwestern Missouri, like Johnson’s Assembly of God-affiliated North Point Church, are hosting vaccination clinics. Meanwhile, about 200 church leaders have signed onto a statement urging Christians to get vaccinated, and on Wednesday announced a follow-up public service campaign.
Opposition to vaccination is especially strong among white evangelical Protestants, who make up more than one-third of Missouri’s residents, according to a 2019 report by the Pew Research Center.
“We found that the faith community is very influential, very trusted, and to me that is one of the answers as to how you get your vaccination rates up,” said Ken McClure, mayor of Springfield.
The two hospitals in his city are teeming with patients, reaching record and near-record pandemic highs. Steve Edwards, who is the CEO of CoxHealth in Springfield, tweeted that the hospital has brought in 175 traveling nurses and has 46 more scheduled to arrive by Monday.
“Grateful for the help,” wrote Edwards, who previously tweeted that anyone spreading misinformation about the vaccine should “shut up.”
Jacob Burmood, a 40-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, artist, said his mother has been promoting vaccine conspiracy theories even though her husband — Burmood’s stepfather — is hospitalized on a ventilator in Springfield.
“It is really, really sad, and it is really frustrating,” he said.
Burmood recalled how his mother had recently fallen ill and “was trying to tell me that vaccinated people got her sick, and it wasn’t even COVID. I just shut her down. I said, ‘Mom, I can’t talk to you about conspiracy theories right now.’ … You need to go to a hospital. You are going to die.”
His mother, who is in her 70s, has since recovered.
In New York City, workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will be required to get vaccinated or get tested weekly as officials battle a rise in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
De Blasio’s order will not apply to teachers, police officers and other city employees, but it’s part of the city’s intense focus on vaccinations amid an increase in delta variant infections.
The number of vaccine doses being given out daily in the city has dropped to less than 18,000, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in early April. About 65% of all adults are fully vaccinated, compared with about 60% of public hospital system staffers, said system leader Dr. Mitchell Katz.
Meanwhile, caseloads have been rising in the city for weeks, and health officials say the variant makes up about 7 in 10 cases they sequence.
“We have got to deal with it aggressively. And in the end, there is also a thing called personal responsibility,” de Blasio said, urging inoculated people to raise the issue with unvaccinated relatives and “get up in their face.”
Back in Louisiana, New Orleans officials issued the new guidance on indoor masks, hoping to avoid the kind of virus-related shutdowns that devastated the city’s tourism economy in 2020. Mayor LaToya Cantrell stopped short of requiring masks. She said the advisory “puts the responsibility on individuals themselves.”
The announcement came as the city’s seven-day average of new cases rose to 117, the highest level since early February. It had fallen as low as eight in mid-June.
Salter reported from St. Louis.
Source: AP News
Avoid one-way valves that allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others
by Rachel Nania | AARP | August 14, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its face mask guidelines and is out with a new recommendation: Avoid wearing masks with an exhalation valve or vent. These masks, which are often worn for dust protection during construction projects, can do more harm than good when it comes to controlling the spread of the new coronavirus.
“The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control,” the CDC says in its guidelines. “However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others.”
The coronavirus is thought to spread mainly by way of respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or exhales. Face coverings, however, can act as a barrier to block these droplets and keep them from reaching others, which is why public health experts and federal leaders for months have urged all Americans to wear a mask to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the community and to slow the coronavirus outbreak.
A report out of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects America’s death toll could reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1. However, if 95 percent of people in the U.S. start wearing a face mask when leaving their homes, that number would drop significantly and more than 66,000 lives would be saved, the report’s authors write.
A recent study conducted at Duke University and published in the journal Science Advances found simple and inexpensive double-layer cotton masks are effective at blocking droplet spray produced during everyday conversation. Most effective, however, were non-valved N95 masks and three-layer surgical masks, which the CDC says should be reserved for health care workers. Gaiter-type neck fleeces, bandannas and knitted masks ranked among some of the worst for stopping droplet spray, the Duke researchers found.
Several U.S. airlines, including American, Delta and JetBlue, are now banning face masks with valves and vents from flights and boarding areas. The CDC recommends cloth face coverings for the general public, and has tips on its website for how to make them at home.
The Emergency Committee on COVID-19, convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR), held its fourth meeting on 31 July. In its statement following the meeting, published today, it expressed “appreciation for WHO and partners’ COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, and highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.”
After a full discussion and review of the evidence, the Committee unanimously agreed that the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and offered this advice to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Dr Tedros accepted the advice of the Committee and confirmed that the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to constitute a PHEIC. The Director-General declared a PHEIC—WHO’s highest level of alarm under IHR—on 30 January at a time when there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside China. He issued the Committee’s advice to States Parties as Temporary Recommendations under the IHR.
“The pandemic is a once-in-a-century health crisis, the effects of which will be felt for decades to come,” Dr Tedros told the Committee in his opening remarks on Friday. “Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths. And some that had large outbreaks have brought them under control.”
The Committee made a range of recommendations to both WHO and State Parties. It advised WHO to continue to mobilize global and regional multilateral organizations and partners for COVID-19 preparedness and response, to support Member States in maintaining health services, while accelerating the research and eventual access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
It advised countries to support these research efforts, including through funding, and to join in efforts to allow equitable allocation of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines by engaging in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator among other initiatives.
The committee also advised countries to strengthen public health surveillance for case identification and contact tracing, including in low-resource, vulnerable, or high-risk settings and to maintain essential health services with sufficient funding, supplies, and human resources.
Countries were advised to implement proportionate measures and advice on travel, based on risk assessments, and to review these measures regularly.
The Committee’s statement, with further details of the meeting and their recommendations, is available here
A list of the Committee members is available here
The Emergency Committee will be reconvened again within three months or earlier, at the discretion of the Director-General.