(Trends Wide) — With the United States averaging more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths a day, not getting vaccinated is similar to driving while intoxicated, a health expert said Friday.
“We need to start talking about the option to stay unvaccinated is like the option to go out and drive while intoxicated,” Trends Wide medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen told Trends Wide’s Wolf Blitzer.
Wen’s comments come after the Joe Biden government announced new COVID-19 vaccination regulations on Thursday and directed the Labor Department to require all companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested once a week. President Joe Biden also signed a decree that requires all government employees to receive their covid-19 vaccines, with no possibility of undergoing periodic tests not to do so.
And while some Republican officials have criticized his measure for overreaching, health experts say the president should have implemented stricter measures to curb the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“From a public health perspective, it’s not an exaggeration at all. And in fact, I wish they would come out sooner and go even further,” Wen said. “We are in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our lives. We have more than a thousand Americans who die every day. We, as a society, make laws that protect the health and well-being of people at all times.”
An average of 1,110 people in the U.S. died from covid-19 each day in the past week, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed. . The death rate since the end of August is the highest since the beginning of March.
While 73.5% of people 12 years and older have been vaccinated with at least one dose, tens of millions of eligible beneficiaries remain unvaccinated, as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to occupy parts of the country. . About 62% of people in the same age group were fully vaccinated by Friday.
“A vast minority of Americans are resistant to vaccination, but that’s where the virus has been circulating,” Trends Wide medical analyst Jonathan Reiner told Trends Wide’s Don Lemon on Friday. “We live in a country that has rules. You can’t smoke in most buildings in America and you can’t drive drunk. You can’t smoke on airplanes. And you can’t blow the virus in your face.
“That’s the way it has to be in this country. And if you’re going to be a persistent threat to public health by refusing to get vaccinated, your actions have consequences, and the consequences may be that you can’t work at your job.”
An August poll by Gallup showed that 56% of Americans favor vaccination orders at work, while 53% support them for dining at restaurants and 61% approve of air travel.
And as for those who have yet to get their shots, it’s not too late to convince them, Dr. Jerome Adams, the former Trump administration director of Health, said Friday.
“We need to remember that most of these people are not what I call ‘vaccine resistant,’ some people say ‘anti-vax,’ I find that term pejorative,” Adams told Trends Wide’s John Berman. “Most of these people are in the mobile environment. They are reluctant to vaccinate. I found that when I speak to them with compassion and empathy, over time I can convince many of them to get vaccinated.”
Health systems are under pressure
Six US states saw at least a 10% increase in new COVID-19 cases last week compared to the previous week, data from Johns Hopkins University showed on Friday, while the other states did not. saw a change or experienced a total decline in cases.
Alabama, one of the states that saw the recent drop in new cases, now faces a shortage of 60 intensive care unit beds, an increase of 20 from last Friday, said state health official Dr. Scott Harris. .
There are 60 patients “who are receiving intensive care because they have a chronic illness and yet they do not have an ICU bed,” Harris said Friday.
“They are being cared for in an emergency department or on a ward bed that has been converted into an ICU ward or on a gurney in the hallway,” Harris said.
Alabama reported 2,667 covid-19 hospitalizations and 53 deaths on Thursday, it added.
In West Virginia, 252 Covid-19 patients are in ICUs and another 141 are on ventilators, marking the highest number of people hospitalized with the disease since the pandemic began, Gov. Jim Justice said Friday.
“A high percentage of people in hospitals are not vaccinated,” Justice said. “We lost another 38 people since Wednesday. We will continue to lose people in this increase without any questions asked,” he said.
Minnesota health officials linked at least 69 COVID-19 cases to the State Fair, according to a statement obtained by the state health department by Trends Wide affiliate WCCO. The Minnesota State Fair website says the event took place Aug. 25-Sept. 5 in Falcon Heights.
A heated debate over mask orders
Meanwhile, the debate over mask mandates remains heated in many states, especially when it comes to schools.
In Kentucky, schools will have the option of requiring the use of masks, after the General Assembly overruled the governor’s partial veto on that part of a bill related to covid-19 standards in schools, officials say. .
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the portion of SB1 bill that would eliminate mask-wearing orders for elementary and middle schools, and let school districts decide whether face masks are necessary, he reported at a meeting. with the media on Friday.
Beshear said the recent Senate rejection of a mandate to wear face masks in schools across the state is a wrong choice, and one that will reap damaging results.
“The mask requirement for schools is not just the right thing to do for our young people, especially those who are too young to even get vaccinated,” Beshear said. “It is our best way to keep our children learning in the classroom.”
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that Biden’s vaccination plan is unconstitutional.
“A member of the executive branch of government does not have the authority to order something like this,” Reeves said.
Trends Wide’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Melissa Alonso, Jaide García, Claudia Dominguez and Jennifer Feldman, Mirna Alsharif, Rebekah Riess and Liam Reilly contributed to this report.