US Coronavirus: States are scrambling to keep up with an increase in hospitalizations and the demand for testing

Staff shortages are increasing as front-line healthcare workers, who are at increased risk of exposure, are infected and must be quarantined at a time when the spread of the Omicron variant is leading more people to the hospitals.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday night that more than 200 National Guard members will be deployed to dozens of test sites, joining other states that have mobilized National Guard members for medical and non-medical duties. to help overloaded healthcare facilities.

“It really is, right now, a viral blizzard because there are so many infections,” said Dr. Samer Antonios, clinical director of Ascension Via Christi Health in Kansas, where Governor Laura Kelly signed a state of emergency disaster this week. due to the challenges of Covid-19.

Nearly 132,000 Covid-19 patients were in US hospitals as of Friday, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s not far from the all-time peak (around 142,200 in mid-January 2021) and an increase of around 45,000 in early November.

Due to staff shortages in some health care systems across the country, through illness or people dropping out due to burnout, the nation “cannot provide the same quality of care to 130,000 patients now as we did last year. “Dr. Taison Bell, director of the medical intensive care unit at the University of Virginia Health, told CNN on Saturday.

As more patients need care, many people with possible Covid-19 symptoms have been left without help as tests remain difficult to find, and doctors have asked those who suspect they are positive to isolate themselves at home with or without confirmation of infection.
Long lines have been part of the course at many test facilities since the holidays. In Utah, four state-operated test sites experiencing some of the “highest demands and longest wait times” will be available by appointment only, starting Saturday, due to growing demand, the department of Utah health.
That move came as officials took other steps to counter the spread of the virus. Utah’s most populous county, Salt Lake County, issued a 30-day mask mandate for all covered public places on Friday.
To try to increase the testing offering, the Biden administration has committed to distributing 500 million free rapid tests nationwide. Officials have offered few details, but they hope to launch a website this month where people can sign up for the tests online and then receive them in the mail.
The first contract to acquire tests has been signed and more are expected in the coming weeks, officials told CNN on Friday.
Medical Assistant Leslie Powers carries swab samples collected from people for on-site processing at a Covid-19 testing site Thursday in Long Beach, California.

Vaccine requirements change

Nearly two-thirds of Americans eligible to receive a vaccine, anyone age 5 and older, have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the number of people inoculated and stimulated is much lower, since 22% of the total population has done so.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, shortening the time period between the initial vaccination and the booster shot from at least six months to five. months for those over 18 years of age.

Biden Administration Signs First Contract for Fast and Free Distribution of Covid-19 Test

“Vaccination is our best defense against Covid-19, including circulating variants, and shortening the time between completion of a primary series and a booster dose can help reduce waning immunity,” said Dr. Peter Marks, Director. from the FDA Center. for Biological Evaluation and Research.

The FDA has already shortened the time needed before receiving a booster shot of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine from six to five months. The Pfizer booster is licensed for everyone 12 years of age and older.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday that she is forcing all healthcare workers to receive a Covid-19 booster shot within two weeks of eligibility.

“Healthcare workers will be asked to do this with no exemptions other than a medical exemption and no trial options,” Hochul said. Previously, all healthcare workers had to be fully vaccinated in September.

Neighboring Connecticut issued a similar order Thursday, as long-term care staff and hospital employees are due to receive booster doses in the coming weeks.

Debate on Covid-19 Security Measures in Schools

With children’s hospitalizations reaching new records, concerns for student safety remain skyrocketing. However, disputes over whether in-person learning is ideal during the Omicron surge are brewing in several school districts this week.
Child hospitalization rates hit record highs as Omicron variant prevails

Nearly 13% of New York City students tested positive for Covid-19 over a 24-hour period, according to a test sample from the city’s department of education on Thursday. No schools are currently closed due to Covid-19 cases, according to additional DOE data, but six school classrooms remain closed.

The Chicago Public School system has canceled classes since Wednesday due to a dispute between city officials and the teachers union over a return to the classroom, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she wants an agreement completed between the two. parties this weekend.
“Our children need to go back to school. Schools are safe,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

The Chicago Teachers Union had voted to teach remotely due to the rise in Covid-19, but the school district canceled classes, saying it wanted to learn in person.

Georgia Public School Teachers Who Test Positive for Coronavirus May Return to School If Asymptomatic and Masked
In Georgia, public school teachers who test positive for Covid-19 are no longer required to isolate themselves before returning to school, and contact tracing in schools is no longer a requirement, according to a letter to school leaders. Posted Thursday by Governor Brian Kemp and the Commissioner of Public Health. Kathleen Toomey.

The Georgia Department of Public Health published an updated administrative order on Wednesday allowing teachers and school personnel, regardless of vaccination status, to return to work after an exposure to Covid-19 or a positive test for Covid-19 if they remain asymptomatic and wear a mask. while at work.

“Students, parents, and educators have made it clear to us that they want to be in the classroom, and we are looking for many methods to continue learning in person safely, including updated isolation and quarantine protocols, reduced contact tracing requirements. and increased testing opportunities, “read Kemp and Toomey’s letter.

Local school districts can still develop and follow their own quarantine and isolation requirements, in accordance with the order.

CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Deidre McPhillips, Kaitlan Collins, Chris Boyette, Michelle Watson, Carma Hassan, Laura Dolan, Steve Almasy, Melissa Alonso, Raja Razek, and Rob Frehse contributed to this report.


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