US Coronavirus: How doctors in Covid-19 hotspots last year are ‘surprised and disappointed’ at new record hospitalizations
In the Southeast, Georgia is now seeing its highest number of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, matching peaks experienced in January, according to US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) data.
Dr. James Black, director of emergency services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, told CNN’s Amara Walker Saturday that his hospital nearly doubled its ICU capacity yet is still faced with an overflow of patients.
“The emergency department is full and the hospital is full,” Black said. “Anytime a patient is discharged, we have patients waiting on those beds.”
“We were frustrated, a little bit bewildered, especially given what we’ve been through at the onset of the pandemic,” Black said, also noting that Georgia trails the national average in vaccination rates.
“We were a little bit kind of surprised and disappointed at the lack of turnout. So, you know, we’ve had to redouble our efforts and pick each other up and certainly, we had hoped to not be having the same discussion eighteen months into it. But here we are, seemingly in worse shape overall than we were initially.”
In Hawaii, the state’s health department reported 13 new deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday, its highest single-day death figure of the entire pandemic. A number of restrictions on public businesses were reinstated in August, and Gov. David Ige urged out-of-state visitors to not travel to the islands unless they had urgent business.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has called for a special session of the state general assembly to meet Tuesday regarding Covid-19, with the aim to extend the state’s declared state of emergency to January 15 and to review executive, agency and cabinet orders.
“The Commonwealth is in a state of emergency. The Delta variant is spreading at a rate never seen before — impacting businesses, shuttering schools and worse, causing severe illness and death,” Beshear said Saturday.
Less-vaccinated parts of California face ICU capacity issues
California’s San Joaquin Valley region has met the threshold to enter “surge protocols,” with less than 10% of staffed ICU beds remaining for three consecutive days, the state Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Friday.
All general acute care hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley region with ICU bed capacity must accept transfer patients when “clinically appropriate” and directed by state health officials or the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, in an effort to find open beds for patients in the area where available.
The protocol is set to be reevaluated Thursday, according to the department.
Less than 50% of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 across much of the agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, CDC data shows, with fewer than one-third of all residents fully inoculated in Kings County.
“While the state works to further increase the number of eligible Californians vaccinated, we must take steps to protect the unvaccinated who are more at risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19,” CDPH said in a statement. “This action will ensure the state’s health care delivery system is prepared and can respond appropriately.”
Vaccinations for those in schools are critical, some states say
“Washington schools have the structure, protocol and people to have successful in-person education,” Shah said.
In Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker is extending the deadline for teachers, college students and health care workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.
The state mandate for those individuals to have at least one vaccination dose, originally set to go into effect September 5, is being pushed back to September 19 at the request of representatives of the health care industry and education organizations.
“While hospitals and schools move forward in good faith, this extension ensures they are prepared to meet this requirement to better protect our most vulnerable residents and children who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated,” Pritzker said in a written statement Friday.
Employees will only be required to have one shot by September 19 — with a second shot within 30 days, if necessary — but those who are not fully vaccinated must be tested for Covid-19 at least once a week. Workers must provide proof of the vaccination to their employers.
Exemptions are allowed for people with a medical or religious objection to the vaccine, but those employees also must get a weekly Covid-19 test.
CNN’s Sarah Moon, Andy Rose, Hannah Sarisohn, Elizabeth Joseph and Jen Christensen contributed to this report.