(Trends Wide) — While the rate of COVID-19 infections across the country is declining, healthcare systems in some parts of the country are struggling with hospital wings still full of patients.
In Montana, the state is facing new highs for coronavirus hospitalizations this week, with 510 active cases displayed on the state’s board website. This dwarfs the maximum set in November, which was before vaccines were available, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
The percentages of ICU beds used for COVID-19 patients in Montana, along with neighboring Idaho and Wyoming, are among the highest in the country, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
And while COVID-19 outbreaks, such as those in the Rockies, emerge from the surge driven by the most infectious variant of the delta, doctors and officials say that as long as millions of Americans remain unvaccinated, the pandemic will continue to simmer. .
“Sadly, I am here today to tell you that we have lost the war. Covid is here to stay,” said Dr. Steven Nemerson, clinical director of Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho. “And the reason it’s here to stay is because we can’t vaccinate enough people to completely eradicate the disease.”
Idaho has been hit by the pandemic in the past two months. Coroners and funeral homes reported that they had run out of space to store the bodies last month due to the increase in deaths.
The day the first vaccine was launched, last December, was the equivalent of D-Day of the pandemic, Nemerson said, and covid-19 will be a recurring problem in the coming years because the US was unable to cope. the challenge.
“There are episodes, at least on an annual basis, that we will have to deal with,” Nemerson said Tuesday during a briefing organized by the State Department of Health and Welfare.
Hospitalizations at the Saint Alphonsus have declined recently, Nemerson said, but that only gives exhausted healthcare professionals a chance to get out for air, especially as workers face hostility from some patients and family members. of covid-19.
“None of us are superhuman, and we all have a limit as to how much work we are able to do, and how much stress and depression we are able to handle,” he said, “and that is compounded by the fact. that too many people are coming to our hospitals questioning what we do. “
In other parts of the country, some hospitals remain without resources. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico and Texas have 15% or less of their ICU capacity available to patients with and without COVID-19, according to HHS data.
Idaho and Montana are two of the 15 states that have yet to fully vaccinate at least half of their residents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English). ). A Trends Wide analysis of federal health data from last month found that, over a week, the median rate of deaths from COVID-19 was more than four times higher in the 10 least vaccinated states compared to the 10 most vaccinated states.
Comply with the vaccination regulations against covid-19
After the Biden administration announced last month that new vaccination standards would be imposed on federal workers and large employers, many private companies and public agencies began setting compliance standards.
At Boeing, where many of its 140,000 employees work in the United States, the aerospace giant announced that its US-based employees will have to show proof of vaccination or “have a reasonable agreement approved” by Dec. 8.
Smaller employers in some cities are also working to comply with the regulations. In the 30 days since New York City began enforcing its own vaccination requirement for most indoor activities, authorities have generally been successful, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
Some 31,000 inspections have been carried out, including the installation of proper signage and checking proof of vaccination, the mayor said.
About 6,000 warnings were issued, according to New York City Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris, though de Blasio said only 15 businesses that received warnings were found in violation and fined.
“To all the small business owners, to all the employees who made this work, thank you,” de Blasio said.
The city’s overall vaccination rate has increased by 9% since the city’s tenure began, he said.
As for public employees in other cities, approximately 812 workers in the city of Boston still do not comply with the covid-19 regulations, compared to 1,400 reported last week, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. Kim Janey. These employees have been placed on unpaid leave.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the country, has postponed until Friday the limit for teachers and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a district spokesperson.
The application of booster vaccines is greater than that of the first doses
As health authorities strive to put as many first doses into the arms of Americans as possible, federal health data shows that the rate of booster delivery is outpacing that of initial inoculations.
An average of 813,690 doses are administered each day, but the first doses – or new vaccines – represent only a quarter of all doses administered, according to CDC data.
Booster doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine have been authorized for people at increased risk for COVID-19, and advisers from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have They will meet Thursday and Friday to review the data and consider reinforcement requests from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Health experts are debating whether a vaccine combination strategy from a different manufacturer might prove safe or even more beneficial.
A preliminary release of a National Institutes of Health study, which has not yet been reviewed or published, suggests that mixing boosters in different combinations between the three vaccines produced a robust immune response.
“The most important conclusions are two things. One is that all these nine different combinations are safe. That is, there are no new or different side effects, so they all appear to be safe,” said analyst Dr. Leana Wen on Wednesday. Trends Wide doctor and ER doctor, to Trends Wide’s Anderson Cooper.
“The second big takeaway is that all of these combinations induced a fairly strong and robust antibody response. So that justifies the mix-and-match approach,” he said.
Moderna’s application will be reviewed on Thursday and Johnson & Johnson’s on Friday. Next, members of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will discuss mixed boosters.
Trends Wide’s Andy Rose, Laura Ly, Maggie Fox, Jen Christensen, Deidre McPhillips, Rob McLean, Alex Harring, and Mallory Simon have contributed to this report.