Hospitals around the nation are once again overwhelmed by the amount of COVID-19 patients.
Texas hospitals tallied more than 10,000 coronavirus patients for the first time since early February. The state has only 329 staffed beds for intensive care among 8,283 hospital beds left for about 30 million people, according to state health data released Tuesday.
And hospital admissions have tripled in the last month among children 17 and younger, said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority, told county commissioners on Tuesday. In June, 11 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 and by July that has more than tripled to 34. A majority of cases, Walkes reported, are among children between 10 and 18 years old.
Meanwhile in Florida, all three hospital systems in one county are over capacity and are continuing to deal with a strong surge in patients, Brevard County Emergency Management Director John Scott said. During the week of July 30 to Aug. 5, Brevard had a total of 189.3 ICU beds at its seven general hospitals — with 176.6 ICU beds occupied on average.
The surge in COVID-19 cases also prompted Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer to urge residents to stop calling 911 for non-emergency calls, as to leave hospital emergency room staff and facilities — and BCFR crews — to handle the urgent medical emergencies.
– Luz Moreno-Lozano, Austin American-Statesman; Florida Today
Also in the news:
►California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce Wednesday a new state requirement that all teachers and school employees need to be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing, Politico reported. Under the policy, which is the first such in the nation, school employees would have to show proof of vaccination to their districts.
►New people are getting vaccinated at the highest rate in over two months, White House COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar said on Twitter. The seven-day average for the newly vaccinated was 503,000, he said.
►Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued a new mask mandate Tuesday for the state’s schools, less than a day before many districts will welcome kids back to class.
►Singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks has canceled appearances at five music festivals, citing coronavirus concerns. Nicks released a statement Tuesday saying that while she is vaccinated, she is being extremely cautious with hopes of a brighter 2022.
►As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown says she is issuing two new pandemic mandates — a vaccination requirement for state employees and statewide indoor mask requirements.
►All city employees and contractors in Washington, D.C., will be required to be vaccinated or follow through with weekly COVID-19 testing, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced Tuesday. Those who fall under the occupational category have until Sept. 19 to get vaccinated if they’d like to avoid weekly testing.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 36 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 618,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 203.9 million cases and 4.3 million deaths. More than 166.8 million Americans — 50.3% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: While close to 700 colleges require students or staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, many don’t have such a mandate, and some may not enforce the use of masks either, even as infections surge nationally. That leaves some faculty members worried that, as in-person teaching resumes in the coming weeks, they’ll be exposed to the coronavirus and its highly transmissible delta variant.
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Through Monday, the ninth day of August, the United States had already reported 969,855 coronavirus cases. That’s more than double the number of cases reported in all of June, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The first nine days of August also added more cases than all of May.
And while testing early in the pandemic was limited, the United States’ first nine days of August included more cases than any of the months of the spring 2020 months: January, February, March, April, May or June.
At the pace of these first nine days of August, the United States would be on track to report about 3.3 million cases in the month; that’s far more than any months of the summer 2020 surge. In fact, if the surge continues at this pace, August 2021 would be the fourth-worst month for cases of the entire pandemic, behind only November, December and January of the fall-winter surge. But the pace of cases continue to rise.
Deaths are rising, too; at this month’s pace so far, the United States could report about 14,100 deaths, far more than July’s 8,671. But the pace of deaths continues to rise.
— Mike Stucka
Study showing levels of antibodies that protect against COVID-19 could speed creation of new vaccines
Eagerly anticipated new research pinpoints antibodies scientists can test for to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is effective. These “correlates of protection” could speed the development of new vaccines or boosters without requiring the enormous clinical trials used to create the first COVID-19 vaccines.
This is “the Holy Grail” in terms of vaccines, and one that hasn’t yet been set for the virus that causes COVID-19, said Peter Gilbert, co-author of the study posted Tuesday to medRxiv, a preprint site where scientific articles can be published prior to being accepted by peer-reviewed journals.
“The hope is that the Food and Drug Administration will see these data and use them as a provisional approval mechanism,” he said.
– Elizabeth Weise
Students at Wesleyan College West Virginia will face a non-refundable fee of $750 if they come to campus unvaccinated or without proof of vaccination, according to a university announcement. The liberal arts college said they strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall.
So far, 90% of Wesleyan’s faculty and staff have been vaccinated and a large percentage of students have also confirmed they’ve been inoculated, according to the announcement.
While the vaccine is not mandated at the time, they will be reviewing the decision once the vaccines are approved by the FDA beyond emergency usage, Wesleyan College said. Students, faculty and staff who are vaccinated will have access to all of campus and are not required to wear a mask unless they choose to do so.
Meanwhile, unvaccinated people are subject to weekly surveillance testing and limited access to campus, in addition to regular social distancing and mask mandates. Students who don’t follow the procedures will face student judicial action, the statement said.
“We’re putting our healthcare workers and our hospitals in an exceptionally difficult position if we don’t pick up the pace of vaccination,” Jim Hoyer, director of the Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines, said in a statement.
– Steven Vargas
Contributing: Associated Press