Eight states, many of which have lagged the national average for vaccinations, have Covid-19 patients that account for at least 15% of their overall hospitalizations: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Of all Covid-19 hospitalizations, these eight states’ combined totals make up approximately 51% of patients, though the states account for only around 24% of the nation’s population, according to Census data.
“In the past week, Florida has had more Covid cases than all 30 states with the lowest case rates combined. And Florida and Texas alone have accounted for nearly 40% of new hospitalizations across the country,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Thursday during a White House briefing.
Florida has the second-highest rate of new cases per capita, with slightly more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people each day over the past week. That’s behind only Louisiana.
On the heels of that, Florida is the latest state to report 50% of its residents as fully vaccinated, according to CDC data published Thursday.
Mississippi on Friday reported 5,023 new cases, another daily record, the state Department of Health said. Of the new cases, 98% of those are in unvaccinated people, the state’s dashboard shows.
A shortage of health care workers
Gov. Tate Reeves said a shortage of health care workers is exacerbating the strain on hospitals, saying the state lost 2,000 health care workers last year.
He said a call has gone out to out-of-state workers — 73 hospitals have requested 65 physicians, 920 nurses, 41 CRNAs, 59 advanced practice nurses, 34 physician assistants, 239 respiratory technicians and 20 EMT paramedics.
Due to constraints “on all levels” of bed capacity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville is limiting elective cases and declining transfer requests from many other facilities, officials said while announcing the hospital and emergency department are “completely full.”
In Texas, the Department of State Health Services said a shortage of pediatric ICU beds in Dallas County is related to a shortage in medical personnel.
“Hospitals are licensed for a specific number of beds and most hospitals regularly staff fewer beds than they are licensed for. They can’t use beds that aren’t staffed. With the increase in COVID cases, hospitals are experiencing a shortage of people to staff the beds that they are licensed for,” health department spokesperson Lara Anton said.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that more than 2,500 medical personnel will be deployed to hospitals around the state to care for the increasing number of Covid-19 patients.
“I know this is not the summer many of us envisioned, with over 2.5 million Oregonians vaccinated against COVID-19,” Brown said. “The harsh, and frustrating reality is that the Delta variant has changed everything. Delta is highly contagious, and we must take action now.
FDA authorizes 3rd dose to immunocompromised
At a meeting of CDC vaccine advisers, Dr. Heather Scobie said a disproportionate number of vaccine breakthroughs are among immunocompromised people. Almost one-third — 32% — of vaccinated breakthrough cases are among that group, she said.
While immune compromised people make up about 2.7% of the adult population — about 7 million people — they’re more vulnerable to infection, said Dr. Amanda Cohn, the executive secretary of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
She said vaccine effectiveness is about 59% to 72% in immunocompromised people, compared to 90% to 94% overall.
“Immunocompromised people are more likely to get severely ill from Covid-19. They are at higher risk for prolonged SARS-CoV-2 infection and shedding and viral evolution during the infection and treatment, particularly amongst hospitalized patients,” Cohn said.
Mask mandate push and pull continues
In suburban Atlanta, more than 550 cases have been reported this week in the Cobb County School District. Cobb County does not mandate masks but does “strongly encourage” them for students and staff, according to the district’s public health guidelines posted on its website.
Broward County School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood responded Friday on CNN to a question about reports that three of the educators were unvaccinated.
“I was also told they were unvaccinated,” she said.
The district, which opens classrooms to students next week, is using money to encourage staff members to get vaccinated.
Broward County has had 138 employees test positive for Covid-19 since August 1, according to the system’s Covid dashboard, which was updated on Thursday.
School system closes due to dozens of cases
The Ware County School System in South Georgia will close until August 27, due to a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 cases reported among students and staff members, the district announced Friday.
Ware County Schools, which has 5,900 students, on Friday reported 76 cases Covid-19 among students and 67 positive tests among staff. Almost 680 students and 150 employees are quarantined.
In-season extracurricular practices and competitions will continue as scheduled, the release said.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Abbey Clark, Gregory Lemos, Lauren Mascarenhas, Christina Maxouris, Deidre McPhillips, Shawn Nottingham, Rebekah Riess and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.