Once again, Americans who don’t even have coronavirus are suffering the consequences of Covid-19 patients filling up hospitals.
More than 101,000 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data Thursday from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Now, some patients wanting urgent care won’t get it because so many beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.
“Before Covid, our ICUs were pretty busy. It’s because people were having car accidents and heart attacks and needing complicated surgery and going to the ICU afterward,” said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence Health System in Seattle.
“And those people are being put on the back burner. So anything that’s even remotely elective, we’re canceling those cases.”
In Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare activated its Crisis Standards of Care in the northern part of the state Tuesday due to “a massive increase in patients with Covid-19 who require hospitalization.”
Crisis Standards of Care are “a last resort” that’s only activated when “we have exhausted our resources to the point that our health care systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” health department director Dave Jeppesen said.
Gov. Brad Little pleaded for eligible Idahoans to get vaccinated.
“We have reached an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state,” the governor said.
In Arkansas, only 23 ICU beds are available, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday.
He noted 91.5% of hospitalized Covid-19 patients and 90% of Covid-19 deaths are among people who did not get fully vaccinated.
In West Virginia, hospitals are “overwhelmingly inundated with cases of people that are not vaccinated,” Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday.
The state has 813 people hospitalized with Covid-19 and set a new record for Covid-19 patients in ICUs – 252 on Wednesday, Justice said. A record 132 Covid-19 patients on ventilators.
Doctors and governors agree: The crisis impacting Americans with or without Covid-19 was preventable.
“We just need to use good sense and get ourselves vaccinated, and then we’ll stop this,” Justice said.
CDC survey: 2/3 of respondents who tested positive reported long-term symptoms
In a survey of 6,000 people across the country, about 22% said they had tested positive for coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a newly published report.
And the majority of respondents who tested positive said they had symptoms lasting four weeks or longer.
“Approximately two thirds of respondents who had received a positive test result experienced long-term symptoms often associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” researchers wrote.
Of those who tested positive for coronavirus and had long-term symptoms, 22% said they had suffered fatigue, 17% said they’d had a change in the sense of smell or taste, 15% said they had long-term shortness of breath, almost 15% said they had a cough, and 14% said they had headaches.
About 29% said they thought getting a Covid-19 vaccine improved their symptoms.
The survey was taken online, and people diagnosed their own symptoms – unlike other studies in which a medical professional has conducted an exam.
But researchers said the survey results offer a real-life look at how people are suffering from Covid-19.
Children are paying the price, too
This school year, more kids are getting hit hard by the Delta variant – which is more contagious than any other strain of coronavirus students dealt with last year.
“This virus is really going for the people who are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, associate professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
“And among those people are children who don’t qualify for the vaccine and children and teens who qualify but are choosing not to get it.”
Almost a quarter of Kentucky’s public school districts – 39 of 171 – have already had to close at some point this school year due to rising Covid-19 cases, quarantines or staff shortages, Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Joshua Shoutla said Thursday.
West Virginia has had 68 school outbreaks in 31 counties, the governor said Wednesday.
“Ten schools and one entire county, Clay, are closed due to Covid,” Justice said.
Georgia’s fourth-largest school system moved one of its middle schools to remote learning “based on a high volume of positive cases and direct contacts,” Fulton County Schools said Wednesday.
And Connecticut College in New London said all classes and athletic activities would be temporarily canceled, according to an alert posted by the college. Remote learning will take place and be reassessed in seven to 10 days, the college said Tuesday.
Biden details new plans to fight Delta variant surge
On Thursday, President Joe Biden laid out a new plan to fight the latest surge, imposing stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and health care staff – requirements that could apply to as many as 100 million Americans.
The six pillars of his plan include: vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated through booster shots; keeping schools open; increasing testing and requiring masks; protecting the economic recovery, and improving care for those with Covid-19.
The plan includes directing the Labor Department to require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or get tested once a week. Large employers will be required to give their workers paid time off to go get their Covid-19 shots, Biden said.
He also signed an executive order requiring all government employees to be vaccinated, as well as an order directing the same for employees of contractors who do business with the federal government.
“We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together to use those tools,” Biden said during his speech.
He added that educators in federal Head Start programs must be vaccinated and said he would also require health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.
The President also called on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or negative tests for patrons and said the Transportation Safety Administration would double fines on passengers who refuse to wear masks on planes.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to Biden, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that both he and the President were “frustrated” with the lack of vaccination progress.
“We’ve done everything we possibly can do to get people to get vaccinated. We have trusted messengers. We made it easy. It’s simple. It’s safe. It’s free,” Fauci said. “The data overwhelmingly show that in those areas that are under-vaccinated, you’re having a high level of dynamics of virus. In those areas that are vaccinated, it’s much lower.”
The data shows, Fauci said, “why it is so important if we want to get this outbreak under control in this country to get vaccinated. And the president is understandably frustrated, and that’s the reason why he came out with his six-point plan.”
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Maggie Fox, Mallory Simon, Maria Cartaya, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Deidre McPhillips, Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.