As families prepare to gather over the Thanksgiving holiday, some hospitals across the country are overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases and staff shortages, and increases linked to holiday gatherings can make it worse.
A potentially week-long closure of an emergency department in New York on Monday was triggered by a shortage of staff after unvaccinated health workers were not allowed to continue work due to a state rule. Mount Sinai South Nassau’s emergency room in Long Beach will direct patients to its Oceanside emergency room.
Denver officials said hospitals are filling up and about 80% of those admitted to COVID-19 are unvaccinated, 9News reported. Dr. Robin Wittenstein, CEO of Denver Health, told the business that their system is on the verge of collapse.
“We are here today because far too many people chose not to be vaccinated even though they were eligible,” said Denver Department of Public Health and Environment CEO Bob McDonald.
The University of Iowa Hospital is also concerned about difficulties as cases of COVID and influenza are on the rise. In Dubuque County, hospital admissions for COVID-19 were as high as they were a year ago before vaccines were available.
“It’s cold now and people are going to be indoors and everyone’s tired of this,” said Chief Medical Officer Theresa Brennan. “People are hungry for human contact. And because of that, people are likely to be less strict about gathering, about masking, about distancing themselves than they were last year.”
Hospitals in the cold Upper Midwest, particularly Michigan and Minnesota, are also filled with COVID-19 patients, who are mostly unvaccinated.
For the holidays, “We urge people who gather to do so after they have been fully vaccinated, as we have been saying for months now,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also in the news:
►Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett urged residents to get a COVID-19 booster shot Tuesday as the numbers are rising, with an average of 267 cases a day and about three deaths a day in the county.
►Steve Burton, who starred in “General Hospital” for over 30 years, was dropped from the show for failing to comply with a vaccine mandate, he announced on Instagram.
📈Today’s figures: The United States has registered more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 773,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: More than 258 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans – 59% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we read: COVID has pushed a decades-long shortage of emergency medical personnel in Michigan into a crisis. How much longer before people call 911 and it will take too long for help to arrive if it does at all?
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Medical, education and transit units are fighting for exemptions from Tennessee’s new COVID law
Dozens of Tennessee health care, higher education and consulting units applied last week for an official exemption from the state’s new law, which strictly restricts companies from imposing COVID-19 restrictions.
The legislation, which was signed into law earlier this month by Governor Bill Lee, bans most private companies from requiring COVID-19 vaccines or proof of vaccination. But the bill introduced a provision for entities at risk of losing large federal funds if they complied with the new Tennessee law, such as federal contractors, transportation authorities and health care providers treating Medicare or Medicaid patients.
The Tennessee inspector began accepting waiver applications on Nov. 15 and received 76 by the end of the week, though legitimate applications were slightly fewer due to some duplicate and erroneous submissions. So far, rejections have been rare.
Of the 76 applications, five were rejected and 44 are awaiting approval.
– Melissa Brown, The Nashville Tennessean
Is another big wave of COVID-19 on its way to Kentucky?
Perhaps, say some local health professionals who have seen a gradual increase in new cases. The recovery follows a sharp drop in cases that came on the heels of a summer wave driven by the delta variant.
“I think … if you look at the whole country, we’re definitely seeing another wave,” said Dr. Jon Klein, vice dean for research at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
Klein added: “If you look at the places that are rising, I have a hard time finding evidence that we are an exception.”
New infections and the number of positive cases of COVID-19 have been rising for a few weeks after a fall in mid-October.
On Monday, Kentucky reported 44 new deaths, 822 new cases – the highest Monday in four weeks. Saturday and Sunday – with 2,048 and 1,018 new cases, respectively – were also the worst Saturday and Sunday in a month.
– Deborah Yetter and Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier-Journal
Starring: Associated Press