As a result of a spike in COVID-19 deaths and illnesses in the US, while the country had been trying to recover from last winter, progress has been delayed and President Biden’s push for mandatory vaccinations may be bolstered. In the South, the Delta variant, in conjunction with a reluctance by some Americans to get the vaccine, contributed to the spread of cases.
The COVID-19 Cases Are Increasing, Erasing Progress Made For Months
In Florida and Louisiana, once-hot spots are improving, but in Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee, infection rates are soaring, fueled by a return to school and lax mask regulations. There are reports that some hospitals are facing an infection peak similar to January’s: Washington state and Utah hospitals cancel surgeries. Alabama and Kentucky are experiencing a major staff shortage. Tennessee has an inadequate number of beds. It is not uncommon in Texas for intensive care units to be at or over capacity.
Doctors, who believe the heartbreak could have been avoided, are angry and frustrated at the deteriorating picture nine months after the nation’s vaccination program began. In a shocking turn of events, a major majority of the dead and injured were not vaccinated, a powerful lesson for many families.
The governor said that 70 percent of Kentucky’s hospitals — 66 of 96 — are suffering from critical staff shortages, the highest level since the outbreak began. Several Kentucky hospitals are in danger of collapse, according to Dr. Steven Stack, the state’s public health commissioner. Over 1,800 COVID-19 deaths are occurring every day in the U.S., and on average 170,000 new cases are occurring each day, the highest numbers since early March and late January.
These two figures have both been on the rise in recent weeks. As of January, there was an average of 3,400 deaths and a quarter-million cases per day, which is still well below the frightening peaks reached in January.
In mid-April, about 3.4 million vaccinations a day were dispensed, a high for the country. Now, only 900,000 vaccinations are administered daily. There will be a meeting of Food and Drug Administration advisors on Friday to discuss whether booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine should be given in the U.S. Currently, the number of people admitted with COVID-19 is approaching 90,000, about where they were in February.
About 80 million Americans are affected by the president’s order to require vaccinations or weekly tests for employers with more than 100 employees. In addition, the approximately 17 million health care workers who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will also need to receive full vaccinations.
Republican opposition and threats of lawsuits have met the requirements. Tuesday marked the deadliest day in Arizona since February of last year, with 117 people killed. The number of new cases in Tennessee is now the highest in the nation. Students there have been forced into quarantine. Some schools have closed because of staff shortages. The switch to remote learning has been requested by others.
Containment measures have, however, run into opposition. During a school board meeting in Tennessee, a student opposed to a mask mandate said his grandmother died of the disease and was heckled by adults. Dr. Stanton, the ER doctor in Kentucky, said he has admitted families where the delta variant has been passed down from generation to generation, especially if the older members have not been vaccinated.
A hospital contacted 43 others in three states to locate a specialty cardiac ICU bed for Ray Martin Demonia, who has several hundred COVID-19 illnesses. It didn’t come soon enough. He died on Sept. 1 at the age of 73. About 50 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in July in Hidalgo County, Texas, near the Mexican border. As of early August, there were over 600.
According to Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, a spike in seasonal flu cases occurred in states where vaccination rates were low, particularly in the South, with its air conditioning systems and recirculated air, she said. Further north might see an increase as cold weather drives people indoors. There are fewer unvaccinated people in Northern states, but the rate is still relatively low. Marr said Delta would find them.
With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.