After a few weeks of decline, US Covid cases are stuck at a high level: “ER is packed”


Jerry Leonardson, a patient positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), sits in a quarantine room at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho, USA, on October 28, 2021.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

After a few weeks of plunging cases of US Covid-19, the reduction in infections stalled.

New infections have declined by an average of more than 74,000 per day over the past week, 57% less than the peak level of the delta wave of 172,500 on September 13th, at 172,500 new cases per day.

That’s certainly good news, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, but the downward trajectory has leveled off in recent weeks, with 70,000 to 75,000 new cases bouncing per day for nearly three weeks. COVID Meanwhile, hotspots throughout the United States have shifted from much of the South.

According to Johns Hopkins, the number of deaths per day is still increasing, with more than 1,200 reported deaths per day in the past week, up 1% from a week ago.

Cases declined most rapidly in the South, delta waves hit the earliest and most violently in the summer, and average daily infections in the region have declined by about 84% from peak levels and continue to decline. The decline is so rapid that Florida, which had a runaway hospital after fighting the worst Covid outbreak in the United States this summer, has become the state with the lowest average number of new cases per day on a population-adjusted basis.

Other southern states with delta wave surges, such as Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, are also ranked among the bottom 10 states measured by daily new cases per capita.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also declining in the South. According to a CNBC analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services, the region’s seven-day average of 112 Covid patients per million inhabitants is the lowest in the country.

“We came from a very high place, so it soared a bit faster,” said Sonya Rasmussen, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Florida School of Medicine, about the state’s declining cases. She pointed out that the cool autumn and winter temperatures of a typical tropical climate make it easier to spend time outdoors, where the virus does not spread as easily as indoors.

“I think the more people are indoors than outdoors, the more seasonality is actually beginning to be seen, rather than the winter and spring that we see with the flu,” she said. “In Florida, I used to be more indoors during the hot summer months, but now I have more opportunities to be outdoors.”

Outside the southern United States, things are heading in the opposite direction. Over the past two weeks, cases have increased by 25% in the Midwest, 18% in the northeast, and 4% in the west. Hospitalizations lagging behind reported infections decreased by 9% in the northeast over the same period, but remained largely flat in the Midwest and West.

The Midwest is currently the region with the highest rate of new daily cases per capita, with recent increases being driven by states such as Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The current number of cases in Minnesota averages about 3,000 per day, “the highest ever seen in 2021.” Tweet from state health department on Tuesday.. “Sadly, the pandemic isn’t over yet,” the tweet read.

Population-adjusted cases were the second highest in the West, with New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona all showing an increase of more than 15% over the last 14 days.

According to Dr. Jonathan Samet, Dean of the University of Colorado Public Health School and Leader of the Covid Modeling Group, the University of Colorado hospital exceeded capacity last week. hospital. “

“When I talk to my clinical colleagues, things are full and the ER is full,” said Samet, saying that his system can meet current demand, but there is little room for expansion beyond that. It pointed out. An emergency order from Colorado Governor Jared Polis allows hospitals to transfer patients to other facilities as needed.

Police issued an executive order on October 31, allowing the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment to require hospitals at or near capacity to suspend new hospitalizations and transfer patients to other medical centers. bottom. State health officials can now also order hospitals to accept patient transfers.

In Colorado, about 85% of staffed intensive care unit beds are used throughout the state, the seventh highest of all states, according to HHS data. Approximately 36% of these beds are used by Covid patients and are in fourth place.

Samet said the combination of cold and low immunization rates in parts of the state has helped facilitate recent relapses.

“Like many states, vaccination is a patchwork,” he said. “In our rural areas, vaccination rates tend to be low and currently have the highest number of cases and hospitalization rates.”

But Samet couldn’t put his finger on why Colorado experienced a particularly bad Covid spike compared to other states. Colorado’s population-adjusted number of cases is almost double that of neighboring Kansas, but it is also unusually severe in other neighboring states such as Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico.

“Unvaccinated is a driving force like many other places, but it’s no different from other states in that it has a significant proportion of people who are unvaccinated and spreading the epidemic,” Samet said. Stated. “We know that unvaccination is important, but that doesn’t mean why Colorado is at this particular moment.”

Rasmussen, a doctor at the University of Florida, also believes that Florida and neighboring states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama are at risk of future outbreaks, despite increased immunity from the summer delta surge. He said the reason was that the vaccination rate was low.

“Their immunization rates are not high enough for me to be reassured that there will be no continuous outbreaks when people gather, especially in areas where immunization rates are low,” she said.

60.2% of Florida’s fully vaccinated residents are a few percent higher than the national rate, but Rasmussen said there are many lower rate county pockets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are all in the bottom 10 states ranked by complete vaccination rate, at 45.2%, 46.2%, and 48%, respectively.

Further advances in treatment and vaccination could help Covid move to what experts call the “endemic” virus.

Appearance of new antiviral Covid pills from Merck When PfizerFor example, it can help prevent infections from leading to hospitalization or death. Pfizer’s new treatment is not a replacement for vaccination, Pfizer director and former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC.Squawk Box“” On FridayHowever, it may provide a higher degree of protection for individuals at risk of serious Covid complications.

“With such an effective treatment, it can be a backstop for people who don’t get the vaccine or who have a breakthrough infection. Tablets are being studied in that situation,” Gottlieb said. Says. “It really is a backstop for death and illness from this infection.”

Pfizer Data released on Friday A Covid pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk adults by 89%, combining this drug with HIV drugs to keep it functioning longer in the body.Merck and Ridge Back Therapeutics Said in october Their antivirals reduced the chances of hospitalization and death for patients with mild or moderate Covid cases by 50%.

U.S. immunization rates could also be boosted by the inauguration of the president Joe Biden‘NS Workplace vaccine obligations, Enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. All companies with 100 or more employees must ensure that their employees are fully immune to Covid by January 4, and employees who refuse to comply will wear masks. You need to be inspected regularly.

OSHA’s mission affects approximately 84 million private sector workers, but new rules have already been applied. Faced with resistance in court..

The Covid vaccine has also recently been approved for children aged 5-11 years. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky approved Pfizer’s vaccine last week, paving the way for Shot to enter the arms of young children.

After a few weeks of decline, US Covid cases are stuck at a high level: “ER is packed”

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