Wednesday, September 22, 2021

COVID-19 cases are climbing, eroding months of progress

COVID-19 deaths and cases in the US are back where they were in the winter, erasing months of progress and potentially reinforcing President Joe Biden’s argument for meeting new vaccination requirements.

Cases driven by the Delta variant combined with resistance to vaccination among some Americans – mostly concentrated in the South.

While one-time hot spots like Florida and Louisiana are improving, infection rates are rising in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, fueled by children now in school, loosened mask restrictions and low vaccination levels.

The dire situation in some hospitals is beginning to look like the peak of January’s infections: surgeries were canceled in hospitals in Washington state and Utah. Serious staff shortages in Kentucky and Alabama. Lack of beds in Tennessee. Intensive care units at or above capacity in Texas.

The deteriorating picture nine months into the country’s vaccination campaign has angered and dismayed medical professionals, who believe heartbreak is preventable. Most of the dead and hospitalized have not been vaccinated.

The governor said that in Kentucky, 70% of the state’s hospitals — 66 of the 96 — are reporting critical staff shortages, the highest level yet during the pandemic.

“Our hospitals are on the verge of collapse in many communities,” said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.

The US averages more than 1,800 COVID-19 deaths and 170,000 new cases per day, the highest levels since early March and late January, respectively. And both figures have been rising over the past two weeks.

The nation is distributing around 900,000 shots of the vaccine per day, well below the peak of 3.4 million per day in mid-April. On Friday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will meet to discuss whether the US should begin distributing booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to protect people.

On a positive note, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 now appears to be around 90,000, or even declining to the level of where things stood in February.

COVID-19 cases are climbing, eroding months of progress
Nation World News Desk
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