COVID Cases Spike Even As US Hits 200M Vaccine Milestone

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The variety of Americans absolutely vaccinated towards COVID-19 reached 200 million Wednesday amid a dispiriting holiday-season spike in instances and hospitalizations that has hit even New England, some of the extremely inoculated corners of the nation.

New instances within the U.S. climbed from a mean of nearly 95,000 a day on Nov. 22 to almost 119,000 a day this week, and hospitalizations are up 25% from a month in the past. The will increase are due almost solely to the delta variant, although the omicron mutation has been detected in about 20 states and is bound to unfold much more.

Deaths are working near 1,600 a day on common, again as much as the place they have been in October. And the general U.S. demise toll lower than two years into the disaster might hit one other heartbreaking milestone, 800,000, in a matter of days.

The state of affairs is just not as dire as final yr’s holiday-season surge, earlier than the general public had entry to COVID-19 vaccines, however the 60% of the U.S. inhabitants that’s absolutely vaccinated has not been sufficient to stop sizzling spots.

The chilly climate, Thanksgiving gatherings and a massive rebound in vacation travel are all believed to be enjoying a job, together with public weariness with pandemic restrictions.

Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights at Georgetown University, likened the virus to a wildfire.

“You can clear a forest of the shrubbery. But if you leave some shrubs and trees standing, the fire will find them,” Gostin mentioned. “The virus will find you. It is searching for hosts that are not immune. The fact that you live in New England or New York doesn’t insulate you.”

Demand for the vaccine — with current approval of boosters for all adults and pictures for elementary college kids — has been excessive amid the surge and the emergence of the omicron variant, whose risks are nonetheless not absolutely understood. On Wednesday, Pfizer mentioned that the preliminary two pictures of its vaccine seem considerably much less efficient towards omicron however {that a} booster dose might supply necessary safety.

Nearly 48 million folks have obtained a booster, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. White House officers famous the U.S. administered 12.5 million pictures final week, the best weekly complete since May.

“And that’s critical progress as we head into the winter and confront the new omicron variant,” White House coronavirus adviser Jeffrey Zients mentioned.

At the identical time, some states, notably in extremely vaccinated New England, but in addition within the Midwest, are grappling with a few of the worst surges because the begin of the pandemic. Hospitals are filling up and reacting by canceling non-urgent surgical procedures or taking different disaster measures, whereas states are strongly selling boosters.

Despite one of many highest vaccination ranges within the nation — over 74% of the inhabitants absolutely vaccinated — Vermont is dealing with its greatest surge but. In the final week, new instances per day are up 54%, and the variety of folks within the hospital with COVID-19 has climbed 18%.

The virus is preying on those that haven’t gotten their pictures: As of Tuesday, 90% of the COVID-19 sufferers in intensive care have been unvaccinated.

“Obviously, it’s not where we want to be,” Gov. Phil Scott mentioned Tuesday, calling the state of affairs “extremely frustrating.”

More than 400 folks have been within the hospital with COVID-19 in New Hampshire at the beginning of the week, breaking the file set final winter.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu directed hospitals to arrange COVID-19 “surge centers” utilizing house usually reserved for things like outpatient care.

“Every day for the next several weeks, we’re likely to see a new high in COVID hospitalizations in New Hampshire,” mentioned Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association. “With over 1,000 new cases a day, that number’s not going to do anything but continue to go up.”

Maine likewise is fighting record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations. Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday activated as many as 75 members of the National Guard to assist out.

“The vast majority of patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated. That’s especially true of critical care patients,” mentioned Andy Mueller, CEO of MaineHealth, the state’s greatest well being community. “It requires a tremendous amount of our resources to provide care.”

Rhode Island’s largest hospital system, Lifespan, mentioned staffing shortages are at never-before-seen disaster ranges, whereas Kent Hospital mentioned it’s near capability and is contemplating delaying non-urgent procedures.

Dr. Paari Gopalakrishnan, Kent’s interim president and chief working officer, mentioned the spike might be on account of “people letting their guards down” throughout the holidays, and flu season might complicate issues additional.

New Hampshire plans to carry a “booster blitz” on Saturday at 15 places. Most appointments have been booked.

In Berlin, Vermont, Mike Labounty received his booster Tuesday.

“I have friends that are in their 20s that are getting sick and friends that are 60 that are getting sick,” he mentioned. “The thing you see on Facebook and stuff like that is, ‘I just want this to be over. I’m very sick,’ so I’m just trying to avoid that.”

Elsewhere across the nation, Indiana has seen COVID-19 hospital admissions double within the final month and is approaching ranges not seen since this time a yr in the past, earlier than vaccines have been broadly obtainable.

The variety of folks in intensive care in Minnesota has reached the best degree but throughout the pandemic, with 98% of ICU beds occupied. Teams of army medics have been despatched into Michigan and New Mexico.

Associated Press writers Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine; and Wilson Ring and Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, Vermont, contributed to this report. Tareen reported from Chicago.

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