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Friday, August 20, 2021

US hospitalizations of people under 50 at highest levels since start of pandemic

US hospitalizations of people under 50 at highest levels since start of pandemic

“Largest increases among those in their 30s and under 18 as US urges world leaders not to attend UN meeting in person

Hospitalizations of people under the age of 50 with Covid-19 are now at the highest levels seen in the US since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest government data shows.

The largest increases in hospitalizations was among those in their 30s and the under-18s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The previous peak in coronavirus patients under 50 needing to be hospitalized was in January this year.

The vast majority of Americans being hospitalized are unvaccinated and rates of people taking the vaccine decline with age – the youngest eligible Americans also tend to be the least vaccinated. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to get the shots.

Hospitalizations could reach a new height across all ages within a month if the latest surge of the disease, with infections currently being driven by the Delta variant, is not curbed, the CDC noted.

Just over half of Americans are fully vaccinated and at least 70% have had one shot at this point, and Biden administration leaders on Wednesday again urged people to get the shot

“This remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the White House pandemic response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said.

Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill Covid-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment.

The surge in the Delta variant of the virus, combined with low vaccination rates, has pushed hospitals to the brink in many states and resulted in a desperate scramble to find beds for patients.

The issue is that large hospitals in urban areas were already running short of space and staff with non-Covid procedures like cancer biopsies and hip replacements when the summer surge started. That means they have very few free beds to offer to patients from small rural hospitals without intensive care units (ICUs) or from medical centers in virus hotspots.

“Just imagine not having the support of your family near, to have that kind of anxiety if you have someone grow acutely ill,” said Steve Edwards, CEO of CoxHealth, whose hospital in Springfield, Missouri, is treating patients from as far away as Alabama.

Hospitals across the US had more than 75,000 coronavirus patients as of last week, a dramatic increase from a few weeks ago but still well below the winter surge records.

However, Florida, Arkansas, Oregon, Hawaii, Louisiana and Mississippi all have set pandemic records for Covid hospitalizations in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the US is urging the more than 150 countries planning to send their leaders or government ministers to New York next month to speak in person at the UN’s annual general assembly meeting to consider giving a video address instead so it wouldn’t become “a super-spreader event”.

A note from the US mission to the UN, obtained on Wednesday by the Associated Press, sent to the 192 other UN member nations, also called for all other UN-hosted meetings and side events to be virtual.

It noted that the meetings draw travelers to New York and will “needlessly increase risk to our community, New Yorkers and the other travelers” and high-level gatherings were expected to discuss the climate crisis, Covid vaccines, food systems, energy and the 20th anniversary of the UN world conference against racism.

The US said the pandemic “continues to pose a significant health risk around the world”.

The general assembly brings much of the east side of midtown Manhattan to a halt, with heavy security and long parades of vehicles ferrying world leaders and their entourages between meetings, accommodations, restaurants and consulates.

All counties in New York City are currently rated as having “the highest level of community transmission” of coronavirus, the US note said.

Further south, in Florida, one of the current centers of the surge of the Delta variant, Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties became the third and fourth school districts in Florida to adopt stricter mask mandates on Wednesday, a day after school boards in Broward and Alachua counties faced threats of severe penalties for defying the ban on mask mandates issued by the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.”

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