September 26, 2022

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As Covid Deaths Rise, Experts Forecast 100K More Americans Lost If We Aren’t More Careful

While there are some signs that the pace of delta-driven infections may be slowing in the U.S., health experts urge Americans to mask, maintain physical distance and get vaccinated to cut projected covid deaths in half for the rest of this year. Disappearing case data and regional outbreaks are also in the news.


CNBC:
U.S. Covid Cases Show Signs Of Slowing, Even As Fatalities Surge Again


Covid cases are still on the rise in the U.S., but the pace of infections is showing signs of slowing, especially in some of the states that have been hit hardest by the delta variant. Though cases have climbed to their highest level since January at an average of 152,000 per day over the last week, the pace of the rise in new infections has substantially slowed over the last two weeks, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows. New cases increased by 11% over the last week, almost a third of the seven-day jump of 30% just two weeks ago, according to the data. (Rattner and Towey, 8/26)


AP:
100,000 More COVID Deaths Seen Unless US Changes Its Ways


The U.S. is projected to see nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1, according to the nation’s most closely watched forecasting model. But health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces. In other words, what the coronavirus has in store this fall depends on human behavior. “Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainably the current wave subsides,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We cannot stop delta in its tracks, but we can change our behavior overnight.” (Johnson and Forster, 8/26)

Fewer places are reporting their covid data —

KHN:
States Pull Back On Covid Data Even Amid Delta Surge 

Two state government websites in Georgia recently stopped posting updates on covid-19 cases in prisons and long-term care facilities, just as the dangerous delta variant was taking hold. Data has been disappearing recently in other states as well. Florida, for example, now reports covid cases, deaths and hospitalizations once a week, instead of daily, as before. Both states, along with the rest of the South, are battling high infection rates. (Miller, 8/27)


Georgia Health News:
Covid Data Disappearing In Georgia, Other States Despite Latest Surge 


Two state government websites in Georgia recently stopped posting updates on Covid-19 cases in prisons and long-term care facilities, just as the dangerous delta variant was taking hold. Data has been disappearing recently in other states as well. Florida, for example, now reports Covid cases, deaths and hospitalizations once a week, instead of daily, as before. Both states, along with the rest of the South, are battling high infection rates. (Miller, 8/26)

In other news about the spread of the coronavirus —


Health News Florida:
FHA Survey: 68 Florida Hospitals Have Less Than 48 Hours Worth Of Oxygen 


The Florida Hospital Association is sounding the alarm, saying a survey shows 68 hospitals have less than a 48-hour supply of oxygen. Hospitals are using three to four times as much oxygen as they were before the pandemic because more than 17,000 patients are hospitalized statewide with COVID-19. The FHA survey, which was done Wednesday, shows 68 hospitals have less than 48 hours worth of supply, with about half of these have less than 36 hours. (Aboraya, 8/26)


CNBC:
Texas Covid: Gov. Abbott Deploys Thousands Of Out-Of-State Medical Staff To Fight Surge


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday the state will get 2,500 additional medical personnel from across the country to help alleviate pressure on the state’s health-care system imposed by this summer’s Covid surge. Texas began requesting external assistance just two weeks ago, when Abbott announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services had coordinated a first wave of over 2,500 out-of-state workers to respond to the delta variant. With this latest addition, the state will have approximately 8,100 outside medical personnel, including nurses and respiratory therapists. (Towey, 8/26)


AP:
COVID-19 Forces Idaho Hospitals Past Capacity, Toward Crisis


Hospital facilities and public health agencies are scrambling to add capacity as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise statewide. But many Idaho residents don’t seem to feel the same urgency. Volunteers are helping with contract tracing at the Central District Health Department, and health education classrooms are being converted into COVID-19 treatment units in northern Idaho. On Thursday, some Idaho hospitals only narrowly avoided asking the state to enact “crisis standards of care” — where scarce health care resources are allotted to the patients most likely to benefit — thanks in part to statewide coordination. (Boone, 8/27)


Anchorage Daily News:
‘The Crisis We Have Been Warning About Is Here’: Alaska Reports 701 New Resident COVID-19 Cases, The Year’s Highest Daily Tally, As Hospital Counts Swell


Alaska reported 701 new COVID-19 cases in residents on Thursday, the highest daily count so far this year, and one of the highest since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. Hospitalizations of COVID-positive patients are also nearing pandemic highs, according to the state hospital association. Thursday’s count of hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 was in the high 140s, according to Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association. Alaska’s highest COVID-19 patient count ever was 151 during the winter peak of cases. (Hollander and Krakow, 8/26)


Bangor Daily News:
Maine ‘Near Crisis’ In ICUs With COVID-19 Surge


Maine hospitals had roughly 10 percent of intensive care unit beds open on Thursday with an industry leader warning the system was nearing crisis and the state’s largest providers uniting in a rare joint briefing to urge residents to wear masks and get vaccinated. The rise in infections, more of which are resulting in severe cases due to the delta variant, has quickly added stress. As of Thursday, Maine had only 34 unfilled critical care beds, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah. That was down from 52 earlier this week, although that was largely due to an increase in patients without the virus. (Piper, 8/26)


North Carolina Health News:
NC Jails And Prisons Report Delta-Driven COVID Surge


Until last week, North Carolina’s most recent surge of COVID-19 cases had largely spared the state’s prisons. No more. Even as the fast-spreading Delta variant turned the state entirely red on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s community transmission map — denoting “high” rates of spread — the state’s prisons facilities had a modest number of cases. (Thompson, 8/27)


The Washington Post:
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Linked To More Than 100 Coronavirus Infections Amid Delta Variant’s Spread


More than 100 coronavirus infections have been linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an annual event that drew hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts to South Dakota as the virus’s ferocious delta variant spread misery nationwide. Health officials in South Dakota, where the rally was held from Aug. 6 to Aug. 15, said contact tracing has connected 16 cases to the event. North Dakota identified 42 cases, while Wyoming confirmed 32, Wisconsin tallied 20 and Minnesota counted 13. (Shammas, Knowles and Keating, 8/26)

Oregon And Hawaii Grasp At Strict Measures To Stem Covid Case Floods

Oregon hospitals are in crisis with an overwhelming number of patients. State leaders have deployed the National Guard and crisis teams to try to help while doctors report dire conditions: “We have patients waiting to get onto life support.” Surging covid cases in Hawaii also prompted its governor to plead with tourists to stay home.


The New York Times:
Covid-19 Surge In Oregon: State Returns To Strict Mandates 


Facing a 990 percent increase in coronavirus hospitalizations since July 9, Oregon leaders have deployed the National Guard to hospitals, dispatched crisis teams to the hardest-hit regions of the state and ordered educators and health care workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. Now, in her latest mandate that will take effect on Friday, Gov. Kate Brown has gone beyond what any other state has done in battling the summer surge, requiring that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks when gathering closely in public, even when outdoors. She said more restrictions might be needed as the coming days unfold and the state tries to keep in-person schooling on track. (Olmos and Baker, 8/26)


The Oregonian:
Oregon On Track For Nearly 1,200 COVID Hospitalizations, Up From Previous OHSU Projection


Following another week of historic highs in Oregon for COVID-19 cases, forecasted numbers for COVID-19 hospitalizations — and when they will peak — have gotten incrementally worse. Peter Graven, an Oregon Health and Science University researcher who has been modeling expected coronavirus hospitalization numbers on a weekly basis since the beginning of the pandemic, says he expects that number will peak early next month – Sept. 6 – at about 1,197. (Forrest, 8/26)


CBS News:
Oregon Hospital Packed With COVID Patients As Cases Surge: “I’ve Never Seen So Much Death In My Career” 


“Every day we see just the body boxes roll out one after the other and then as soon as we clean the room we get somebody back in there… It’s the worst we’ve ever seen.” That’s what ICU nurse Clarissa Carson told CBS News’ Janet Shamlian Wednesday at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Oregon, where COVID-19 patients have filled the hospital. Shamlian reported constant turnover in the hospital’s intensive care unit, but not because patients are getting better. (8/26)

Hawaii is also struggling —


AP:
COVID-19 Surge Pummels Hawaii And Its Native Population


Kuulei Perreira-Keawekane could barely breathe when she went to a Hawaii emergency room. Nausea made it difficult for her to stand and her body throbbed with pain. Like many Native Hawaiians, she was not vaccinated against COVID-19.Perreira-Keawekane’s situation highlights the COVID-19 crisis that is gripping Hawaii as hospitals are overflowing with a record number of patients, vaccinations are stagnating and Hawaiians are experiencing a disproportionate share of the suffering. (Kelleher, 8/27)


The Wall Street Journal:
Hawaii Wants Tourists To Postpone Their Trips, But Many Aren’t Yet 


Travel agents say they have been inundated with questions from would-be vacationers about how to approach their trips. Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel in Honolulu, has seen a small number of cancellations at his agency since the governor’s announcement. But he says he hasn’t noticed a mass rush to call off trips just yet. “It all depends on what additional restrictions are going to come down,” he says. “If they decide to close beaches and parks, that’s going to be even more of a game-changer.” Earlier in August, the state limited indoor capacity in bars, restaurants and gyms to 50%. Starting this week, all large gatherings on Oahu were limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. (Pohle, 8/26)


AP:
Hawaii Leaders Want Official Fired For COVID Drug Remarks


State legislative leaders have called on Hawaii’s governor to fire the Maui district health officer for promoting the use of drugs to treat COVID-19 that haven’t been approved for this use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sen. Roz Baker, a Democrat who represents south and west Maui, said Dr. Lorrin Pang was potentially harming the lives of Hawaii’s most vulnerable citizens because people will be inclined to believe him because of his position. (McAvoy, 8/27)

In related news about air travel —


CBS News:
TSA Sees Lowest Air Travel Numbers Since May 


Travelers are canceling flights amid the summer surge in COVID-19 cases. The Transportation Security Administration reported its lowest air travel numbers of the summer on Tuesday and Wednesday after hitting its highest traffic of the year at the beginning of August.  More than 1.4 million people went through TSA checkpoints Tuesday and 1.5 million on Wednesday, the agency reported. It’s a large decrease from the 2.2 million reported in early August. (Barnett, 8/26)

If They Can Spell ‘Quarantine’ Or Not, 90K Students Have Had To So Far

The academic year is only weeks old for 19 states but so far thousands of kids have already missed some school to isolate or quarantine due to covid infections or exposure. Yet, school districts in different regions are taking vastly different approaches to protective measures. Meanwhile, pediatricians are under pressure from some parents to administer off-label vaccinations to their children.


The Hill:
At Least 90,000 Students Have Had To Quarantine Because Of COVID-19 So Far This School Year 


Just weeks into the new school year, at least 90,000 children in 19 states have had to or are currently quarantining or isolating after contracting COVID-19 or coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the disease. The disruptions have caused uncertainty for parents, students and school districts that had hoped to resume in-person instruction after a year marked by lockdowns and virtual learning. (Schnell and Vakil, 8/26)


USA Today:
COVID Cases In Kids Are Rising As School Year Stumbles With Outbreaks


After a year of virtual school, students and parents alike were excited for the return of in-person learning. But just as quickly as the new school year started, many children were sent back home after a slew of COVID-19 outbreaks forced them into quarantine. In Florida, school districts around the state, including in Jacksonville’s Duval County, are closing schools as cases rise. New Orleans School District saw 299 active COVID-19 cases and more than 3,000 students and staff in quarantine, according to district data. A Mississippi public health official said about 20,000 students across the state are in quarantine. (Rodriguez, 8/26)


Los Angeles Times:
Strict COVID-19 Quarantine Rules To Be Enforced At L.A. Schools


Los Angeles County health officials will continue to enforce strict school quarantine rules amid a “sobering” 3,186 coronavirus cases at campuses countywide last week, public health officials said Thursday. The county quarantine rules, which are stricter than state guidelines, have raised concerns among some school leaders and parents about academic disruption after thousands of students and staff members were sent home in the opening days of the school year. In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, 6,500 were in quarantine or isolation the first week of class. (Blume, Alpert Reyes and Lin II, 8/26)


New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Suburban Schools Take Laissez-Faire Approach To Delta Variant Despite Mounting Covid Death Toll


Jefferson and St. Bernard parish school officials appear content to let the COVID-19 Delta variant largely run its course by implementing only modest mitigation measures — and even rolling back some safeguards put in place last year to control the significantly less deadly version of the virus. Considering 11 children in Louisiana have died as a result of Covid and infection rates among school-aged children are skyrocketing, it’s an approach to public health policy that one expert says has turned kids, who are largely unvaccinated, into “sitting ducks.” (Poche, 8/26)

More parents are demanding covid vaccines for their children —


The Washington Post:
Pediatricians Besieged By Parents Seeking Coronavirus Shots For Kids Under 12


As the start of the school year nears, pediatricians say they are being deluged by calls from anxious parents, who are eager to get their children vaccinated against the virus that continues its deathly rampage, especially as the delta variant appears to exact a greater toll on kids. Some parents are seeking ways to get the shots before federal officials give the go-ahead, with more than 2,100 children with covid-19 hospitalized, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data. (Sellers and Cha, 8/26)


Stat:
As Some Parents Press For Vaccines Off-Label, Pediatricians Call For Patience


Just hours after the Food and Drug Administration announced full approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning: Physicians should not vaccinate any children under the age of 12 “off-label.” But by that time, parents had already started calling their pediatricians. Full FDA approval of a drug or vaccine opens the door for off-label use, when doctors can use their discretion to provide a treatment in a way other than what it’s specifically approved for — in this case, people age 16 or older. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Patti Mulligan spoke to an administrative employee and easily made a Wednesday appointment for her 9-year-old daughter. When they showed up, they were turned away because the practice had decided not to provide off-label vaccinations. (Gaffney, 8/27)

Also —


Fox News:
Louisiana Reports COVID-19 Death In Child Under 1


Louisiana health officials on Wednesday announced the death of a child under 1 due to COVID-19, marking the 11th pediatric fatality in the state since the beginning of the pandemic. The death, one of 110 new fatalities reported Wednesday, brings Louisiana’s number of COVID-19-related fatalities to 12,226. “Each COVID-19 death in Louisiana has been heart-wrenching, but the loss of such a young child, who could not be vaccinated yet, is tragic and a stark reminder of the difficult circumstance we are in throughout Louisiana,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news release. “Right now, we are seeing younger people hospitalized. They are getting sicker than in the previous surge and unfortunately some of them may die. Already, this week, we have confirmed 6,146 COVID cases in children and last week there were 63 pediatric cases of COVID admitted to the hospital. Even children who are not hospitalized or very sick are contagious.” (Hein, 8/26)


Fox News:
Louisiana High School Football Player Dies From COVID-19: Local Reports


A Louisiana community is mourning the loss of a young high school player who died after contracting COVID-19, according to local reports. Patrick Sanders, a 14-year-old Baker resident, died Wednesday, The Advocate reported. Baker Police Chief Carol Dunn told the news outlet that the entire football team is under quarantine out of an abundance of caution. (Hein, 8/26)


Oklahoman:
A ‘Beautiful Soul’: 13-Year-Old OKC Student Dies Of COVID-19


An Oklahoma City boy who was set to begin eighth grade this year died of COVID-19 complications last week, school officials confirmed. Clarence Wayne Johnson III, was 13 years old when he died Aug. 19, Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Native American Student Services department said in a Facebook post. The department said many teachers and staff loved Clarence, who was Comanche and Kiowa, for his “beautiful soul and unforgettable smile.” (Martinez-Keel and Branham, 8/26)

First Toilet Paper, Now Covid Tests: CVS Limits Sales Of At-Home Kits

Abbott Laboratories, which ramped down its production of its BinaxNOW test earlier this summer, said supplies will be limited in the next few weeks as it hires workers and reboots factory lines.


Bloomberg:
CVS Limits Purchases Of Covid Rapid Tests Due To High Demand


CVS Health Corp. is limiting customers’ purchases of rapid, over-the-counter Covid-19 tests, with a maximum of six packages available online and four in its pharmacies, as the spread of the delta variant spurs demand. Put in place this week, the limits apply to Abbott Laboratories’s BinaxNOW along with a test from the startup Ellume, according to an email from a CVS spokesperson. Both tests are available without a prescription. (Court, 8/26)


The Wall Street Journal:
As Delta Variant Surges, So Does Demand For At-Home Covid-19 Tests 


Demand for at-home Covid-19 tests has risen sharply in recent weeks as the Delta variant surges across the U.S., causing test makers to scramble to keep pace. Abbott Laboratories said it expects supplies of its at-home test to be limited in the next few weeks as it hires workers and reboots factory lines that were slowed or idled earlier this summer. Availability on Amazon.com of Abbott’s BinaxNOW test and a similar test made by Quidel Corp. QDEL 2.80% has been spotty, and an at-home test made by Ellume USA LLC was out of stock as of Wednesday. The tests, which detect fragments of viral proteins called antigens, can be found with patchy access on store shelves and websites. (Abbott, 8/26)


Knoxville News Sentinel:
COVID-19 Testing Appointments Can Be Hard To Find Around Knoxville


As delta variant cases rise throughout Knox County and East Tennessee and school is back in session, those with symptoms are finding spotty access to COVID-19 test appointments .Both rapid results and laboratory COVID-19 tests can be hard to find, which is a scary feeling when parents are determining whether to keep their kid out of school. “There is a shortage of certain types/brands of rapid tests, and there is a shortage of available appointments to administer tests,” EDP Biotech spokesperson Eric Mayer said in an email to Knox News. “Many providers are working quickly to source alternative brands of tests, or open more daily appointments, to address the current pandemic spike.” (Willis, 8/26)


WYMT:
COVID-19 Testing Sites Coming To Regional Hospitals To Help Overrun ERs


Starting Friday, COVID-19 testing sites will open at four hospitals across [Kentucky]: Baptist Health Corbin, Pikeville Medical Center, St. Claire Regional Medical Center and a site in Danville. Gov. Andy Beshear said he had talked with CEOs of hospitals and they were frustrated the emergency rooms were overrun with people wanting a COVID test. … The governor hopes these testing sites will free up staff who usually handle the testing, so they an attend to patients.


The Hill:
DC Expands At-Home Coronavirus Testing Program 


Washington, D.C., expanded COVID-19 testing efforts on Thursday, offering 11 new sites where residents could pick up and drop off coronavirus testing kits. The development is a part of a larger initiative in D.C., called the Test Yourself DC program, which provides people the opportunity to either take a COVID-19 test kit home and drop off samples later that day, or take a COVID-19 test on site. (Vakil, 8/26)


Houston Chronicle:
Don’t Bring Asymptomatic Kids To The ER For A COVID Test, Texas Children’s Doctors Beg Parents


Since school started earlier this month, Texas Children’s Hospital emergency centers and urgent care clinics have been filled with parents seeking COVID-19 tests for their children. But emergency rooms don’t have the capacity to test all of them, especially if they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, said Dr. Brent Kaziny, medical director of Emergency Management at Texas Children’s Hospital. In addition to handling COVID-positive patients, the pediatric hospital is in the middle of a busier-than-usual respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) season and is handling patients who come in for the “normal things,” like accidents, falls and other injuries that come with the start of school. (Garcia, 8/26)

Institute For Clinical And Economic Review To Investigate Covid Therapies

The ICER will examine efficacy of Regeneron’s casirivimab and imdevimab, GSK’s monoclonal antibody treatment sotrovimab and other drugs. Meanwhile, WMFE reports on how Florida’s monoclonal antibody treatment sites aren’t being used to their full capacity.


Modern Healthcare:
ICER To Review Efficacy Of COVID-19 Treatments


The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review plans to review the efficacy of several of the most commonly used COVID-19 treatments. An independent review panel will deliberate and vote on a report presented during the group’s Midwest Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council in April, the organization announced Wednesday. The interventions under evaluation include casirivimab and imdevimab, sold by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals under the brand name REGEN-COV. Use of this treatment, which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last November, has increased in states like Florida and Texas, where vaccination rates are low while new COVID-19 cases have been spiking. (Ross Johnson, 8/26)


WMFE:
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Sites Are Not Reaching Full Capacity 


Gov. Ron DeSantis visited The Villages on Wednesday to announce the opening of another state monoclonal antibody treatment site for COVID-19 sufferers with mild symptoms. But treatment locations around Florida have the capacity to treat many more patients. Florida’s 20 or so locations have treated more than 10,000. DeSantis says none are at capacity. (Byrnes, 8/26)


Axios:
Demand For COVID Treatments Surges As Cases Mount 


Demand has soared in recent weeks for monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 infections. Monoclonal antibodies — the treatment then-President Trump received when he got COVID — had a slow initial uptake, but are now gaining ground in the pandemic’s fourth wave. A handful of states with low vaccination rates and little willingness to take other safety precautions are leading the charge to make these treatments more available. (Reed, 8/27)

In news about ivermectin —


CNN:
Arkansas Doctor Under Investigation For Prescribing Ivermectin Thousands Of Times For Covid-19 Despite FDA Warning 


The Arkansas Medical Board is investigating after a doctor said he prescribed an anti-parasitic drug “thousands” of times for treatment of Covid-19, including to inmates in an Arkansas jail. The FDA has been warning against the use of ivermectin for treatment of Covid-19 since March. The drug is used to treat parasitic infections, primarily in livestock, and the CDC recently cautioned about an increase in reports to poison centers of severe illness caused by the drug. (Sayers and Riess, 8/27)


Houston Chronicle:
Houston Doctor Treats COVID Patients With Anti-Parasite Drug Ivermectin, Despite FDA Warnings


A Houston doctor says he is using the anti-parasite medication ivermectin with a combination of drugs to treat COVID-19 patients, despite warnings from federal health officials that it could cause serious harm when used to combat the virus. Dr. Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Center, on Thursday told the Houston Chronicle that he has used ivermectin since the start of the pandemic in all COVID patients. He said he administers a low dosage based on the people’s weight with a cocktail of steroids and vitamins. (Gill, 8/26)


CNBC:
Clamoring For Ivermectin, Some Turn To Pro-Trump Telemedicine Website


When users visit the telemedicine website SpeakWithAnMD.com, they are immediately hit with a warning: “Due to overwhelming demand, we are experiencing longer than usual wait times.” The demand is for ivermectin, a drug primarily used to deworm animals that has become the latest false cure for Covid-19. And the website, in partnership with the organization America’s Frontline Doctors, whose founder stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, has become well-known in the Facebook groups and Reddit communities where anti-vaccination sentiment thrives. (Collins and Zadrozny, 8/27)

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