By Heather Hollingsworth and Richard Alonso-Zaldivar | The Associated Press
White House officials said Thursday that vaccinations are starting to roll out in some states where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, and hospitals are running out of space because of the Delta version, which provides “incredible efficiency.” spreading along.”
Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Ziants told reporters that residents in many states with the highest proportion of new infections have been vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada as examples.
“The fourth surge is real, and the numbers are frightening at the moment,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on a New Orleans radio show. Edwards, a Democrat, said: “There’s no doubt we’re heading in the wrong direction, and we’re going there quickly.”
Louisiana reported 2,843 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a day after reporting 5,388 – the third highest level since the pandemic began. The latest report shows hospitalizations last month, up from 242 on June 19 to 913. Fifteen new deaths were reported on Thursday.
State Department of Health data shows that just 36% of Louisiana’s population is fully vaccinated. Nationally, 56.3% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eli Neal, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Health, said the state has seen a “little jump” in vaccinations recently, with details available Friday. Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health, said the system has seen a 10% to 15% increase in people seeking vaccinations over the past week or two.
In Missouri, which is second only to Arkansas and Louisiana in the number of new cases per capita in the past 14 days, officials have launched a vaccine incentive program that includes a $10,000 prize for 900 lottery winners. The state is nearly 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have received at least one shot.
Hospitals in the Springfield area are under strain, reaching epidemic high and near-epidemic numbers of patients.
“Small, relatively healthy and unvaccinated. If this describes you, please consider vaccination,” tweeted Eric Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, noting that half of COVID-19 patients are ages 21 to 59 and Only 2% of that group has been vaccinated.
The boom that began in the southwest part of the state, where some counties have lower immunization rates among teens, has begun to spread to the Kansas City area, which includes Research Medical Center.
“I don’t want to put my life on the line just because people don’t want to get vaccinated or hear what health care professionals are advising,” said Pascaline Muhindura, a registered nurse working on the hospital’s COVID. 19 units for more than a year.
“Many of them do not even believe in COVID-19 in the beginning. This is incredibly disappointing. You are helping someone who doesn’t even believe that the disease they have is real,” Muhindura said.
Dr. Jason Wilson, an emergency physician at Tampa General Hospital, has also seen a rise in cases with desperation. Unlike earlier in the pandemic, when many patients were in their 70s, they have seen the average patient age in their mid-40s.
“I spent a lot of time this fall and last summer saying, ‘We have to do these things, these social mitigation strategies until we get that vaccine. Just wait there,'” Wilson said.
Hospitals were initially hopeful as there was a decline in cases. But then, he said, “things just fell into place.”
In conservative Utah, hospitals are also refilling as the virus grows among unvaccinated people. On Wednesday, the state recorded the highest number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in five months.
State health officials renewed their pleas for vaccinations for residents as Utah intensive care units reached 81.5% capacity. 295 people are hospitalized in the state due to this virus, which is the highest since February.
Professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Dr. William Schaffner said, “At this point in time this Delta is largely honing in on unrelated individuals.”
The variant, which originated in India, now accounts for an estimated 83% of genetically identified coronavirus samples in the US, is the dominant strain in every region of the country and is “spreading with incredible efficiency,” CDC directors, Doctor. Rochelle Valensky told reporters at the White House.
She said the mutation is more aggressive and highly transmitted, calling it “one of the most contagious respiratory viruses we know”.
“We are in yet another critical moment in this pandemic,” she warned. “We need to come together as a nation.”
The CDC has not changed its guidance that people who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask. But in Georgia, Atlanta Public Schools announced Thursday that it would implement a “universal mask-wearing” policy in all school buildings in the system when fall classes begin.
Officials said just 18% of eligible students in the Atlanta school system have been fully vaccinated and 58% of its staff said they were either fully vaccinated or plan to be.
“Given our low vaccination rates and rising community spread, CDC acknowledges that universal masking would be appropriate,” the school system said in the statement.
Associated Press Writer Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.