US coronavirus: Covid-19 cases are declining. However, hospitalizations are still high in some hot spots

Montana, for example, is facing new spikes this week in hospitalizations for the coronavirus, with 533 Covid-19 patients in hospitals as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It tops that high in November, before vaccines are easily available, according to HHS and data from the Covid Tracking Project.

HHS data showed that percentages of intensive care beds used for Covid-19 patients in Montana, along with neighboring Idaho and Wyoming, are among the highest in the country.

But with Covid-19 hotspots like those in the Rockies emerging from the surge driven by the more contagious delta variant, many doctors and officials are focusing more on the millions of Americans who have never been vaccinated — and say the pandemic will continue to simmer for as long as many remain. are not immune.

“Sadly, I’m here today to tell you we lost the war. COVID is here to stay,” Dr. Stephen Nimmerson, chief clinical officer at St. Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho, said Wednesday. And the reason it stays is because we can’t vaccinate enough of the public to completely eradicate the disease. “

The pandemic has criticized Idaho for the past two months. Forensic doctors and funeral homes reported that they ran out of mortuary space last month due to an increase in deaths.

The day the first vaccine was released last December was the pandemic equivalent of D-Day, Nimmerson said, and Covid-19 will be a recurring problem for years to come as the United States fails to meet the challenge.

“There are episodes, at least on an annual basis, that we’re going to have to deal with,” Nimmerson said Tuesday during a briefing hosted by the state Department of Health and Social Care.

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Hospitalization at Saint Alphonsus Hospital has recently declined, Nimmerson said, but that it does little more than give exhausted health professionals a chance to get up for air, especially as workers face hostility from some Covid-19 patients and their families.

“None of us are superhuman,” he said, “and we all have limits on how much work we can do, how much stress and desperation we can handle,” and this is compounded by the fact that also a lot of people come into our hospitals wondering what we’re doing.”

In other parts of the country, some hospitals are still overwhelmed. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico and Texas have 15% or less of ICU capacity available for Covid-19 patients and non-Covid-19 patients, according to HHS data.

Idaho and Montana are two of the 15 states that have not yet fully vaccinated at least half of their residents, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CNN analysis of federal health data last month found that within one week, the average Covid-19 death rate was four times higher in the 10 least vaccinated states than in the 10 most vaccinated states.
A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient in the medical intensive care unit at St. Luke's Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, on August 31.

Adhere to vaccination regulations

After the Biden administration announced last month that new vaccination rules would be imposed on federal workers and large employers, several private companies and public agencies began setting compliance rules.

At Boeing, where many of its 140,000 employees work in the US, the airline giant announced that its US-based employees will need to show proof of vaccination or “have approved reasonable accommodation” by December 8.

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Smaller employers also work in certain cities to stay in compliance. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that in the 30 days since New York City began enforcing its own vaccine requirements for most indoor activities, authorities have had overall success.

The mayor said about 31,000 inspections have been carried out, including installing the appropriate signage and checking evidence of vaccination.

About 6,000 warnings have been issued, according to New York City Small Business Services Commissioner Juniel Doris, but de Blasio said only 15 companies after the warnings are still violating and have been fined.

“To all the small business owners, and to all the employees who have done this work: Thank you,” de Blasio said.

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He said the city’s overall vaccination rate has increased by 9% since the city’s mandate began.

For public servants in other cities, approximately 812 Boston employees remain non-compliant with the city’s Covid-19 regulations, down from 1,400 reported last week, according to a statement from Mayor Kim Janney’s office. These employees have been placed on unpaid leave.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the country, has pushed back the deadline for fully vaccinating teachers and staff against Covid-19 until Friday, according to a district spokesperson.

The data shows that the boosters are more than the first doses

As health officials work to get as many first doses as possible into the arms of Americans, federal health data shows the rate of boosters being taken is outpacing initial vaccinations.

An average of 81,690 doses are given each day, but the first doses — or new vaccinations — are only a quarter of all doses taken, according to CDC data.
FDA addresses Moderna and J&J&J Covid-19 booster questions, including mix-and-match shots
Booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have been allowed for those at higher risk of contracting Covid-19, and advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to meet Thursday and Friday to review data and consider booster applications from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
There is an ongoing conversation among health experts about whether a mix-and-match strategy of using a booster from a different vaccine maker might be safe or more beneficial.

The preliminary version of the NIH study, which has not yet been reviewed or published, indicates that mixing boosters in different combinations between the three vaccines produced a strong immune response.

CNN medical analyst and emergency physician Dr. Lina Wen told CNN on Wednesday.

“The second big takeaway is that all of these combinations elicited a very strong antibody response,” she said. “This actually justifies the mix-and-match approach.”

Moderna’s application will be considered Thursday, and Johnson & Johnson’s application will be set for Friday. The discussion will move from members of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, to mix-and-match boosters.

Andy Rose, Laura Lee, Maggie Fox, Jane Christensen, Deidre McPhillips, Rob McClain, Alex Haring and Mallory Simon contributed to this report.

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