Tag Archives: unvaccinated

Half of Unvaccinated in US Unconcerned About Delta Variant: Poll

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

About half of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Americans aren’t concerned about the contagious Delta variant, according to a new CBS/YouGov poll.

Among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people, 48% said they were “personally concerned” about the Delta variant, as compared with 72% of fully vaccinated people who said they were concerned.

Public health officials have voiced warnings in recent weeks about the rapid spread of the Delta variant, especially in locations with low vaccination rates.

“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular,” Vivek Murthy, MD, the U.S. surgeon general, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately, that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” he added.

About 68% of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Sunday. About 59% are considered fully vaccinated.

The CBS/YouGov poll found that 53% of unvaccinated Americans said they wouldn’t get a shot due to potential side effects. About 50% said they don’t trust the U.S. government, and 45% said they don’t trust the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition, 74% of the unvaccinated group said they’d still reject a COVID-19 vaccine, even if their own doctor recommended it. Conducted between July 14-17, the poll included more than 2,200 U.S. adults.

More than 186 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and 161 million are fully vaccinated. A remaining 90 million eligible people have yet to receive a shot, according to Newsweek.

About 99.5% of current COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in unvaccinated patients, Murthy said Sunday.

“That’s why it is so important that we take every measure possible to make sure people have the information they need about the vaccine, to make sure they have access to the vaccine and to help them get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” he said. “It is our fastest, most effective way out of this pandemic.”


CBS News: “Biden nets positive marks for handling pandemic, but vaccine resistance, Delta concern remains — CBS News poll.”

CNN: “State of the Union, July 18, 2021.”

CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”

Newsweek: “Over Half of Unvaccinated Americans Say They’re Not Concerned About Delta Variant: Poll.”

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This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

Top Mississippi Hospital to Require Masks for Unvaccinated

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s only level-one trauma hospital and academic medical center will require all employees and students who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear an N95 mask while inside, a decision that a top official acknowledged would not be popular with everyone in the country’s least vaccinated state and may result in the loss of employees.

“This is not a popular decision with some people. There are some people in the medical profession with who in fact, this is not a popular decision, and I acknowledge that,” University of Mississippi Medical Center Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. LouAnn Woodward said Friday during a news conference.

Woodward said the University of Mississippi Medical Center has responsibility and an obligation as “the place that takes care of the sickest patients” to set the example for others in health care across the state.

“I feel strongly that this is the right thing to do,” she said, emphasizing that the vaccines are safe and offer strong protection against contracting the potentially life-threatening disease.

The policy will require all of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s 10,000 employees and 3,000 students to either be vaccinated or wear an N95 mask at all times while at any hospital-affiliated facility. The new rule will also apply to contractors, vendors and anyone else who might come into contact with patients.

Visitors will continue to be required to wear masks whether they are vaccinated or not.

The policy will go into effect gradually over the course of three months beginning July 26. Managers and supervisors will be first, followed by employees who work directly with patients and others. Everyone should be fully vaccinated or wearing an N95 mask at all times by November 1, according to the medical center.

Officials said they aren’t sure precisely how many haven’t been vaccinated, but they plan on consulting employees’ medical records for verification.

Speaking with reporters at a press conference on the hospital’s campus, Woodward said hospital leaders have been mulling the policy for weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have begun to rise again, with the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant.

On Friday, there were six children hospitalized with COVID-19 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, with three of those children being in intensive care. Officials said they are seeing more pediatric hospitalizations from the virus than they’ve seen in past peaks.

She said the hospital’s legal and human resources teams completed an intensive review of the policy to ensure it is “sound and defensible.”

“One of the things that we talked about internally before we put this out was, ‘OK, now we need to brace ourselves for hate mail,’ because we knew that this is an issue that, for whatever reason, people feel so strongly divided on and so political,” she said.

Woodward, who is also the dean of the School of Medicine, said the reaction to the policy had been mixed so far, with many people on both sides of the debate reacting on social media and via email.

She said the new policy may result in some employees choosing to leave, “the last thing we want.”

“The heaviest part of this is knowing that some of our own will feel unhappy about this,” she said. “But at the end of the day our obligation is to the patients. That’s the most critical thing.”

Woodward said the University of Mississippi Medical Center values its employees and that it weighs on her that “some of our employees feel disenfranchised by this because that’s not the intent at all.”

“This is not a place to work if you’re looking for somewhere easy, a not-too-hard job,” she said. “We take care of some sick, sick patients here. The people that work here have a heart for our mission.”

The hospital has long been challenged by a nursing shortage, and can’t afford to lose employees, Woodward said.

With just 31% of its population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Mississippi ranks last among U.S. states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a major concern in a state with high rates of residents with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other conditions that heighten the risk of having a severe case of COVID-19, Woodward said.

She said she hopes that other health care systems will be inspired to follow the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s lead to get the state’s vaccination rate up.

“Mississippi’s rate of vaccine uptake is not what we want it to be,” she said. “It is not what we need it to be.”

Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

CDC: COVID-19 Is a ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to spike in communities where vaccination rates are low, leading to what CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, called “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Walensky reported sobering numbers during a news conference Friday: The most recent 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases was more than 26,300, up 70% from the previous week. The average of daily deaths is now 211 – an increase of 26%.

“There is a clear message that’s coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said. “We are seeing outbreaks in parts of the country where we’re seeing low vaccination coverage.”

She continued, “The good news is, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re protected … our biggest concern is we are going to continue see preventable cases, hospitalizations, and sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated.”

Walensky said rates have gone down considerably since the peak of the pandemic when the country saw 200,000 cases per day. However, because of the highly transmissible Delta variant, we are “in a critical moment in the pandemic.”

When asked if breakthrough infections – illness caused by COVID-19 in vaccinated people – is contributing to the spread of the Delta variant, infectious disease expert Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said it is unlikely.

Research shows the viral load among those who are vaccinated is so low that transmission is unlikely, but, he said, there is not sufficient clinical data on that yet.

Fauci said as of June 2021, the variant had made it to 100 countries around the world.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said four states accounted for 40% of new cases last week – one in five coming from Florida.

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This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

Covid-19 risk for some unvaccinated people is higher than it’s ever been, expert says

And health officials nationwide are taking note.
For unvaccinated people in certain parts of the country, the risk of Covid-19 is higher than ever before, said Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
“If you are unvaccinated, the risk is incredibly high — and maybe in some areas, higher than it’s ever been, because there are not mask mandates, people are enjoying this wonderful return of summer and are a little more carefree and lackadaisical and making it more possible that you could be exposed,” Spencer told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday.
Because the virus is circulating at high levels in certain areas, Spencer said vaccinated people should “continue to be smart,” but are very unlikely to get sick, be hospitalized or die of Covid-19.
How the pandemic is affecting vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals differently is being demonstrated in hospitals nationwide, as local health officials are reporting an overwhelming majority of hospitalizations from Covid-19 among those who have not yet been fully vaccinated.
Even in areas with higher rates of vaccination, officials are beginning to reinstitute safety protocols such as mask mandates to try and curb the spread. Los Angeles County reinstated its indoor mask mandate this week for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. And health authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area announced Friday they are recommending everyone wear masks indoors.
With growing concern, local authorities can decide to go the “extra mile” to contain Covid-19 spread with mask guidelines, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Under certain circumstances, where you have a high level of dynamics of infection — be that in Los Angeles or wherever — the local authorities do have the discretion of going that extra mile or going the extra step it takes to make sure that the spread of this virus is really contained, and they do that by saying that everyone should wear a mask,” Fauci said Friday in an NBC Nightly News interview.
Roughly 48.4% of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pace of vaccinations over a seven-day average has declined 13% from the prior week.
Among those states that have fully vaccinated less than half its residents, the average Covid-19 case rate was 11 new cases per 100,000 people last week, compared to 4 per 100,000 among states that have fully vaccinated more than half its residents, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

‘I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it’

Local officials are continuing to sound the alarm about the increase in cases, particularly among those unvaccinated. Twenty states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, according to the CDC, yet in states with fewer vaccinations, health care facility resources are being stretched.
Katie Towns, acting director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in Missouri told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Friday that the department is requesting an alternative care site and staff from the state to address the growing number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“It’s at a level that we’ve not seen before,” Towns said, noting that area hospitals reached capacity this week.
“Most striking is the demographic and age,” she said of those sick. “The illness has really shifted from being an older population … to being ages 20, 30, 40 years old in the hospital and needing ICU care and oxygen.”
Towns said “almost all” patients in the hospital are unvaccinated, and hospitals and health officials are projecting an increase in numbers following the Fourth of July holiday.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it,” Towns said when asked where the county stands with fighting the pandemic.
In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Friday that since February, 97% of cases and deaths related to Covid-19 are of those who are not fully vaccinated.
People line up for the vaccine at Mother's Brewing Company in Springfield, Missouri, on June 22, 2021.

Unvaccinated health care workers are causing staffing issues

While health officials have preached the need for Americans to get vaccines, one industry in particular is also facing a growing crisis with unvaccinated workers: health care.
In one example, the University of Florida Health Jacksonville hospital is going through staffing issues due to unvaccinated staff and is seeing an uptick in hospitalizations due to Covid-19, according to Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention.
The hospital has seen a 50% increase in Covid-19 admissions in the last two weeks and 10% more Covid-19 patients per day, Neilsen told CNN. The average age of Covid-19 inpatient admission is 54, the lowest UF Health Jacksonville has ever seen.
Staffing at the hospital is becoming a big issue, Neilsen noted, as unvaccinated staff are being exposed to and getting Covid-19 in addition to undergoing burnout. There is only around 52% vaccine compliance among employees at UF Health Jacksonville, according to the director.
“Unvaccinated employees seem to be taking longer to recover and longer to return back to work,” Neilsen said, as the hospital is considering pausing elective surgeries.
Lowered rates of vaccination among health care workers are not limited to just hospitals. Only 56% of health care workers in nursing homes are fully vaccinated, according to a new analysis from AARP. The organization says only one in five nursing homes hit the industry target of having 75% of staff fully vaccinated.
At a national level, many more residents than staff are fully vaccinated, according to the analysis. While the number of deaths at nursing homes dropped significantly after the vaccine rollout, AARP attributed a third of all US Covid-19 deaths during the pandemic to residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
“This national tragedy cannot be repeated,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP’s executive vice president and chief advocacy & engagement officer said in an organization news release. “With cases once again rising across the country and considering the highly contagious Delta variant, every effort must be made to protect vulnerable nursing home residents.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges on Friday urged all its member institutions to require Covid-19 vaccinations for employees to protect patients and health care personnel, as the Delta variant continues to circulate.
“Across the country, we are seeing increasing evidence that those currently unvaccinated continue to be at high risk of acquiring Covid-19 and are the overwhelming majority of new hospitalizations,” AAMC President Dr. David Sorkin said Friday, stating that variants are exacerbating the pandemic and that vaccinations are needed to mitigate the spread.
“Nowhere is this more important than in hospitals, where health care personnel — who have been heroic during this pandemic — are caring for patients with a wide variety of health challenges under the assumption that the health care professionals treating them are not at risk of acquiring or transmitting Covid-19,” Sorkin said.
“Yet, we have tragically lost some health care personnel to the coronavirus, while others have taken the infection home to their families. Vaccinating health care personnel at our member institutions saves lives.”

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Top US health official warns of ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’

The US is experiencing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, the head of the country’s top public health agency warned, as new coronavirus cases have jumped 70 per cent in the past week.

More than 33,000 infections were reported across the US on Thursday, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press briefing on Friday morning. That boosted the seven-day average of new cases to about 26,300 a day, from a rate of roughly 15,500 a week ago.

“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

Communities that have a higher share of fully vaccinated residents are “generally faring well”, she said, but health officials at federal and state levels have increasingly been pointing to high proportions of new Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths among unvaccinated individuals.

Line chart of  showing Rate of new US Covid-19 cases is near a two-month high

“We know that 99.5 per cent of people who are in the hospital are people who are unvaccinated, and people who are dying of Covid are unvaccinated,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said on Friday. “The data is very clear.”

Although the number of new cases remains far below the peak of the pandemic, the latest increase has raised concerns that new restrictions may once again be needed to keep healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, especially as the pace of vaccinations slows.

After a blistering start, the US’s inoculation campaign has lost momentum, with some people afraid or unwilling to get the jab despite plentiful supply.

The Biden administration has also expressed concern that vaccine hesitancy is being fuelled by misinformation shared on social media platforms. 

Asked about Facebook’s role on Friday, Biden said: “They’re killing people . . . The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated and they’re killing people.”

The US has fully vaccinated 48.3 per cent of its population, according to the CDC. The rate of doses administered nationally dropped from a daily average of more than 3.4m in mid-April to about 421,000 a day in the week ended July 10.

Four states — Florida, Texas, California and Missouri — accounted for more than 40 per cent of new coronavirus cases in the US over the past week, according to Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus task force co-ordinator. Florida alone accounted for one in five new infections over the past week.

In Mississippi, unvaccinated individuals made up 94 per cent of new Covid cases, 87 per cent of hospitalisations and 93 per cent of deaths this week, according to Thomas Dobbs, the state’s top health officer. Mississippi has the lowest level of vaccine coverage in the US, with just 33.6 per cent of its residents fully vaccinated.

Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Nevada and Louisiana are all averaging more than 20 new cases per 100,000 people a day, according to the CDC, compared to a national average of almost eight, although vaccination rates in those states were now increasing, Zients said.

The rise in cases has also been linked to the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19, which now accounts for more than half of new infections, according to the CDC.

Walensky’s warning comes as some counties and cities have brought back pandemic-era guidelines to guard against further outbreaks, particularly those linked to the Delta variant.

Los Angeles on Thursday announced it would reinstate its mask mandate this weekend, requiring individuals to again wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The decision comes barely a month after the city, alongside the rest of California, lifted the restriction on June 15 for fully vaccinated residents.

Chicago this week placed restrictions on unvaccinated travellers from Missouri and Arkansas, which are hotspots for the Delta variant.

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“Unvaccinated pandemic”: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States has increased by 26% from the previous week

U.S. officials said on Friday that the delta change of COVID-19 is reflected in the major strains of the world and is driving a surge in deaths across the United States, almost entirely among unvaccinated people.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in the news that COVID-19 cases have increased by 70% from the previous week, and the number of deaths has increased by 26%. Most of the surge occurred in vaccines. Bulletin for counties with below average vaccination rates.

“This is becoming an unvaccinated epidemic,” Varensky said, adding that 97% of COVID-19 patients in the United States are not vaccinated.

According to officials, four states accounted for 40% of the increase in cases, and Florida alone accounted for one-fifth of the country’s new cases in the past week.

Along with Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nevada are listed as states with a significant increase in cases.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said that “if and when” deployment is needed, the United States has enough to strengthen the supply of needles, but the focus now is to persuade those who are still hesitant to protect themselves and their families. On the positive side, Zients stated that approximately 5 million people in the country have been vaccinated in the past 10 days, many of whom are from states with low vaccination rates so far.

Currently, according to CDC statistics, 65.2% of the eligible population over the age of 12 have been vaccinated at least once, and 56.5% have been vaccinated, but there are big differences among the 50 states.

Teenage singer and actress Olivia Rodrigo (Olivia Rodrigo) spoke at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday. Her “Good 4 U” reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list this summer. Rodrigo shot a video there to encourage young people to get vaccinated in the case of coronavirus trends in the United States. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

US officials emphasized young people in targeted vaccination messages, saying they were hospitalized more frequently than at the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier this week, the White House brought teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo (Olivia Rodrigo) into the White House to serve some public service establishments.

In contrast, 79.3% of Americans over 65 were vaccinated, and the proportion of one-time vaccinations was 9% higher.

Los Angeles County restores indoor mask regulations

State and local officials are reconsidering the use of masks, most notably in Los Angeles County’s announcement late Thursday.

As cases in many parts of the United States have risen to worrying levels, the county has a population of 10 million and Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, is among the jurisdictions that have recommended or mandated the wearing of masks or other epidemic restrictions in recent days. One.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said on Twitter on Thursday: “We require everyone in public places and indoors in businesses to wear masks, regardless of vaccination, so that we can stop the increase in the level of transmission that we are seeing.”

(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

The agency said the authorization will take effect one minute before midnight on Saturday night.

Before the announcement, Los Angeles County had reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for six consecutive days. As of Wednesday, nearly 400 people had been hospitalized for COVID-19, an increase of 275 from the previous week. Nine new COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday.

More than 1,500 new infections were reported on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, California’s Sacramento and Fresno counties recommended that people who are vaccinated wear masks indoors. Officials in Austin, Texas, on Thursday urged unvaccinated or other high-risk groups to avoid travel, indoor gatherings, eating out and shopping, and to wear masks.

Earlier this week, Yolo County, California, also recommended wearing masks indoors. In Springfield, Missouri, children and teachers were required to wear masks during summer school.

Masks still need to be worn on public transport: CDC officials

Despite these trends, this week a group of Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to ban the wearing of masks on public transportation, arguing that as more and more Americans are vaccinated, these regulations no longer make sense. Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs stated that the transit mask regulations “only those who like to control our daily lives will comply.”

In mid-May, the CDC stated that in most places, fully vaccinated people can avoid wearing masks indoors—but there are some exceptions, such as border crossings.

People walked past the Salt Lake City International Airport on July 1. Air passenger traffic has picked up this month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that wearing masks in public transportation is still essential. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

A senior US health official signed a comprehensive order requiring masks to be worn on almost all forms of public transportation. He said masks are a key tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Marty Cetron, director of the Global Immigration and Quarantine Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Reuters on Thursday that the agency’s “current position” is that the authorization should not be revoked.

“Masks are really powerful, and we should make sure they are part of our arsenal,” Cetron said in an interview. “We wear masks not just to protect ourselves-we wear masks because it is our way of caring for and expressing concern for each other.”

Regulations that have been implemented since January require all passengers to wear masks when in planes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis and carpooling, as well as in transportation hubs such as airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, and ports.

Watch | Delta Air Lines is looking for unvaccinated Americans:

Even with the increase in the number of cases, the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the United States has begun to decline, mainly in areas with low vaccination rates. Officials are trying to incentivize vaccines, but they say they may need to take more drastic measures. 1:58

The requirement to wear masks has always been a huge source of friction on American aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday that since January 1, it has received 3,420 reports of unruly passengers, of which 2,559 were due to refusing to wear masks.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated that July 11 was the busiest day since February 2020, with nearly 2.2 million passengers.

“I know we are all just over emotionally, but I do think that if we realize that the virus is the enemy, not your compatriot or the person sitting next to you or the person sitting next to you or a piece of cloth, we will be together Success must be on the face,” Cetron said.

There is no expiration date for CDC transit mask orders. In April, TSA extended its mask requirements to September 13.

During Donald Trump’s administration, efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the mandatory use of masks during transportation were blocked.

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With cases surging, driven by unvaccinated Americans and fueled by the Delta variant, hospitals are again bracing for another round of devastation

“I remember seeing articles in the news about hospitals in California with empty Covid units and I longed for that experience,” Segarra, the chief medical officer with Baptist Health’s Baptist Hospital, said. “It’s an experience we were working our way towards that unfortunately has taken a rather sad turn.”
In the weeks since, the hospital’s Covid-19 patient numbers have more than tripled, and staff are now treating more than 70 people, an “exponential growth,” he said, that they were not expecting. To accommodate the climbing patient numbers, the hospital recently reopened two units that were previously shut down.
The overwhelming majority of those coming in sick with Covid are unvaccinated, Segarra said. Many are young — people in their 20s and 30s who are getting “extremely, extremely sick” and some of whom are dying.
Roughly 45% of people in Florida are fully vaccinated, according to state data. The low vaccination rates, along with a dangerous coronavirus variant that’s now the dominant strain in the United States and the relaxed Covid-19 guidelines, are what Segarra said he thinks have led to the increase.
“It’s very sad to see as a health care professional, to see that this is generally an avoidable and preventable disease and to see so many people dying from a preventable illness,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
With cases of the virus surging in most of the United States — driven by unvaccinated Americans and fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant — Covid-19 hospitalizations are climbing in other parts of the country, too, and hospitals are again bracing for another round of devastation.
And in Covid hot spots such as Florida and Missouri, where patients are quickly filling Covid units, experts warn a rise in deaths could soon follow.
Emergency personnel wear face masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 while leaving an hospital clinic emergency room on March 24, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. Parts of the state are now seeing a surge of patients

Younger, healthier patients are getting treated

In Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, Missouri, hospital leaders say half the number of Covid-19 deaths they’ve seen since the start of this year — eight in total — occurred over the past week.
A little more than 23% of the county’s population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to hospital spokesperson Helania Wulff. And the county, now labeled as “very high” risk, saw its positivity test rate jump from 9.5% last week to more than 30% this week, Wulff said.
Lauren Toman, the hospital’s director of respiratory care, said that while during previous surges patients tended to be older and have preexisting conditions, patients now are younger and healthier — but are coming in sicker and getting worse more quickly.
“They rapidly decline, very fast, and then even after intubation we’ll see them rapidly decline and unfortunately we are seeing people passing quicker than before,” Toman told CNN.
All the patients she has worked with in recent weeks have been unvaccinated, Toman said.
An hour and a half away, Erik Frederick, the chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, told CNN they’re seeing patient numbers accelerate “at a pace that’s almost unbelievable.”
The hospital went from 26 Covid-19 patients June 1 to more than 130 on Saturday — higher than ever before, including their winter surge.
“Last year, it took us from September 1 to our peak, on December 28, to go from 24 to 113 (patients),” Frederick said. “We eclipsed that this year in 39 days.”
There’s a “direct line,” he said, between the low vaccination rates the community has seen to the rise in cases and hospitalizations. Roughly 40% of residents in Missouri are fully vaccinated, according to state data, and some of the counties the hospital serves still haven’t hit the 20% mark, Frederick said.
Patients there have also trended younger. Roughly 91% of patients in the intensive care unit are on ventilators, and these include young patients, in their 20s, 30s and 40s, he said.
While Missouri is quickly emerging as a new Covid hot spot, health leaders in other parts of the United States are reporting similar patterns. Dr. Jeffrey Chapman, the chief medical officer at Wyoming’s Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, say the hospital’s increase in Covid-19 patients includes a younger demographic that is overwhelmingly unvaccinated and “deteriorating” faster.”
In Mississippi, where less than 34% of the population is fully vaccinated, the state’s top health officer warned the Delta variant surge has led to seven children being treated for Covid in state ICUs — including two on ventilators.
Virtually of all the cases in the state involved the Delta variant, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said on Twitter, adding the “vast majority” of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were among unvaccinated Americans.

An increased risk for vaccinated Americans too

In Kansas, the University of Kansas Health System recorded several days with just two or three Covid-19 patients back in late May. Now, it’s treating more than three dozen patients, according to Dr. Steven Stites, the chief medical officer.
More than 80% of new patients are unvaccinated, though others have been vaccinated, he said.
“When you dig into those patients, what you see is that they’re all severely chronically ill patients,” he said. “Vaccination is not an entirely ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card. It makes things a lot better, but it doesn’t make it go away.”
Experts say that while vaccines are very effective, they’re not perfect — and Americans who have been fully vaccinated should still consider the levels of transmission and the type of environment they’ll be in when deciding whether to wear a mask. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said immunocompromised people or those who are chronically ill should consult with their physicians before shedding their masks.
“I’m a little nervous about the open society and people thinking everything is normal when it’s not and especially when you’re more chronically ill you still need to keep your mask on,” Stites said.
In Mississippi, Dobbs said on Twitter that 7% of the state’s Covid-19 deaths were in vaccinated people, calling that number “worrisome.”
“We are allowing too much circulating Delta to reach our most vulnerable,” he wrote.

‘Only way we’re going to stop this monster’

Hospital leaders say the latest surge in patients comes as staff are already exhausted and traumatized from a battle with the virus that has now lasted more than a year.
In Texas County, Toman said she worries they’re going to see a continued surge, fueled by July 4 festivities and the ongoing summer gatherings, that will “overwhelm every hospital in Missouri.”
“What I fear is, can we survive this again? Can we stay positive, can we all keep our morale up?” she said. “We’re trying hard to be there for each other but we’re tired and we’re scared.”
She said that while she understands the hesitations some community members may have about the vaccine, getting the state’s vaccination numbers higher will be “the only way we’re going to stop this monster.”
Segarra, in Miami, said he agrees.
“We haven’t made the progress that we wish in terms of treating Covid, we don’t have that magic bullet in terms of treating Covid, but boy, we’ve come pretty close to having that magic bullet to avoid it — and to see it not being used is very frustrating,” he said.
The country fell short of meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of at least partially vaccinating 70% of American adults by Independence Day earlier this month. More than a week later, about 67.7% of US adults have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, and nearly 59% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
“We’re dealing with a public health situation that’s beyond our personal needs, so we need to be a little bit more selfless as opposed to selfish,” Segarra said.
“So if you’re on the fence on whether you get vaccinated or not … think of the good that you’ll bring to your society, that you’ll bring to your community, because not only does the vaccine prevent you from getting sick, it prevents you from transmitting it to others.”

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Malta abandons plan to bar unvaccinated travellers from entry

Malta has abandoned its plan to close its borders on Wednesday to travellers that have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, Trend reports citing Euronews.

On Friday the government announced that from July 14, travellers would have to prove they had been vaccinated, which led to criticism from the European Commission.

The government announced on Tuesday that instead, arrivals would face an undisclosed period of quarantine. The compulsory self-isolation period for those arriving from countries certified as “red” is already 14 days.

The EC had criticised the ban, pointing out that the health pass system adopted by the EU – under which arrivals had to prove they were vaccinated, cured of the coronavirus, or recently tested negative – was binding on member states.

It had appeared to shut the door completely on tourists from the United States and other nationalities by saying on Friday that “anyone arriving in Malta must present a recognized vaccination certificate: a Maltese certificate, a British certificate or a certificate of the European Union”.

The new notice published on Tuesday, which comes into force on Wednesday, however includes many other nations, including the United States and Japan.

The small Mediterranean island of 500,000 boasts of being the most vaccinated country in the EU, with 79% of the adult population having received two doses.

But while on June 27 no new cases were reported and only 28 cases were recorded, Malta recorded 96 new infections on Friday, bringing the total of recorded cases to 252.

A large number of cases have been detected during language trips and the government announced last week that English schools, which attract students from all over the world each year, will be closed from Wednesday.

Hundreds of students, including 150 Italians, are stranded in Malta, placed in quarantine after this outbreak, according to the Foreign Ministry.

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‘Double variant infection’ Unvaccinated woman, 90, dies after catching TWO Covid strains

The death of the unvaccinated woman in March earlier this year is believed to be the first documented case of its kind. The woman, who died in Belgium, is suspected to have contracted both the Alpha and Beta variant from two different people.

Scientists are now warning that, although rare, dual infections are happening.

Dr Anne Vankeerberghen, lead researcher from the OLV hospital in Aalst, Belgium, said the co-infection likely hastened her symptoms.

She said: “Both these variants were circulating in Belgium at the time, so it is likely that the lady was co-infected with different viruses from two different people.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know how she became infected.

“She was a lady who lived alone, but she got a lot of helpers coming in to care for her.

“Whether the co-infection of the two variants of concern played a role in the fast deterioration of the patient is difficult to say.”

The evolved forms of the virus are believed to have originated in Kent and Brazil respectively.

Both Alpha and Beta strains are classed as “variants of concern” and have mutations that differ from the base version of the virus.

READ MORE: Delta variant: Pfizer developing booster shot to target mutation

Recent data suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines were 96 percent and 92 percent effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant respectively after two doses.

However, a study compiled by Israel’s Ministry of Health released last week suggests the Pfizer vaccine becomes less effective at dealing with variants after six months – dropping to around 64 percent efficacy.

The Delta variant, first identified in India, is the most prevalent strain in the UK and US.

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In Maryland, everyone who died of Covid in June was unvaccinated. That’s not an aberration, experts say.

In addition, unvaccinated people made up 95% of new Covid-19 cases in the state and 93% of new Covid-19 hospitalizations, Hogan said at a news conference Wednesday.
The connection between vaccination status and Covid-19 is not specific to Maryland and is not limited to last month, medical experts have said.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said Maryland’s data is a trend that will be seen in states across the country.
“No question that almost all of the deaths and hospitalizations will be in unvaccinated individuals, and therefore we should expect most of severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths will occur predominantly in areas of low vaccination and high Delta,” such as in the South and Mountain West, he said.
“So far it’s confirming what we saw with Phase 3 clinical trials: That all of the vaccines authorized for emergency use give extra protection against hospitalizations and deaths, so this has been confirmed now in very practical settings over the past year,” Hotez added. “It’s a reminder that you have every reason to get vaccinated.”
Maryland National Guard Sgt. Jason Grant administers a Moderna coronavirus vaccine at CASA de Maryland's Wheaton Welcome Center on May 21, 2021 in Wheaton, Maryland.
Dr. Paul Sax, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, similarly highlighted the Maryland data as evidence of the continued effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines.
“We’re finding that 99% of the people with severe disease are unvaccinated, so the vaccines are preventing severe disease, even from Delta,” he told CNN on Wednesday.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave similar numbers during a White House briefing last week.
In fact, more than 99% of US Covid-19 deaths in June were among unvaccinated people. In addition, early data suggests that over the last six months, nearly all Covid-19 deaths in a number of states have been in unvaccinated people, Walensky said last week during a White House briefing.
“Preliminary data from a collection of states over the last six months suggest 99.5% of deaths from Covid-19 in these states have occurred in unvaccinated people,” Walensky said. She did not specify which states.
In California, just 8,699 out of 20 million fully vaccinated people have become infected with Covid-19 between January 1 and June 30, according to state data. At least 652 of those were hospitalized, and at least 71 died — a minuscule percentage out of the 37,180 Californians who died in that same time period, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
The data is further evidence of the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines, which have proven to be remarkably effective at preventing on new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths, according to studies featuring tens of thousands of people across the world.
The CDC has tracked so-called breakthrough cases in which a vaccinated person is hospitalized or dies from Covid-19. The CDC has tallied 879 deaths among vaccinated people — a tiny fraction of the more than 600,000 Americans who have died of the novel coronavirus.

Unvaccinated people remain at risk

Overall, new infections, hospitalizations and deaths have sharply declined for everyone over the past few months as over two-thirds of Americans have had at least one vaccine dose.
Yet, unvaccinated people remain susceptible to infection, particularly in pockets of the country where vaccination rates are low.
“It’s really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Fauci noted that no vaccine provides perfect protection for everyone, but the data shows their clear positive impact.
“Obviously there are going to be some people, because of the variability among people and their response to vaccine, that you’ll see some who are vaccinated and still get into trouble and get hospitalized and die,” he noted. “But the overwhelming proportion of people who get into trouble are the unvaccinated.”
Indeed, states with below-average vaccination rates have almost triple the rate of new Covid-19 cases compared to states with above-average vaccination rates, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In addition, people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus, if they do become infected, have milder illness than unvaccinated people, a CDC study found.
In a news conference Tuesday, President Joe Biden stressed that the vaccines are highly effective and safe.
“Study after study has shown that since early May, virtually every Covid-19 hospitalization and death in the United States has been among the unvaccinated. So, if you’re vaccinated, you’re protected, but if you’re unvaccinated, you’re not,” he said. “So please get vaccinated now. It works. It’s free. It’s never been more important.”
Infectious disease experts have also explained that unvaccinated people present an opportunity for the virus to mutate.
“The more unvaccinated people are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “When it does, it mutates, and it could throw off a variant mutation that is even more serious down the road.
“So unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” he added.

Author: Eric Levenson, CNN
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