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'The virus will find you and infect you': Expert's dire warning to unvaccinated Americans as COVID cases increase 277% in weeks and average daily deaths surpass 400 for first time since June
Deaths have not risen at the same rate as cases and still remain significantly than the record high of 4,460 on January 12 thanks to the vaccine rollout.
However there has still been a marked uptick in fatalities.
The seven-day average for daily new deaths almost doubled in the past two weeks from about 270 deaths per day to nearly 500 a day as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The spike in cases and deaths is sending hospitalizations skyrocketing, overwhelming hospitals in hotspot states and counties.
In Missouri, 30 ambulances and more than 60 medical personnel will be stationed across the state to help transport COVID-19 patients to other regions if nearby hospitals are too full to admit them, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced Friday.
Florida hospitals are suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and a cafeteria to try to make space for the influx of patients.
AdventHealth hospitals recorded its highest ever number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 - 1,350 - as of Thursday since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, one ER in hard-hit Texas revealing it is at almost five times its hospital bed capacity.
The number of Americans hospitalized with the virus has also skyrocketed and it has gotten so bad that many hospitals are scrambling to find beds for patients in far-off locations.
Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital said in an internal email Friday that it currently has 90 patients in its 20-bed emergency department, reported ABC13.
A healthcare worker treats a patient in the COVID-19 ICU at Freeman Hospital West in Joplin, Missouri, on Tuesday. The surge in cases is overwhelming hospitals in hotspot states
An overflow treatment tent outside the emergency department at Palm Bay Hospital in Florida. Florida hospitals are suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and a cafeteria to try to make space
More than 50 patients are also waiting for a bed while doctors have been left with no choice but to treat some patients in hallways and waiting rooms.
The email, which was sent under the label of 'critical', called on 'the entire medical staff rally together to help' and to arrange for people to receive outpatient rather than inpatient treatment wherever possible.
'If additional testing and/or treatments are needed that are not urgently related to the current admission, please arrange for them to be performed after discharge as an outpatient,' read the email.
Houston officials say the latest wave of COVID-19 cases is pushing the local health care system to nearly 'a breaking point,' resulting in some patients having to be transferred out of the city to get medical care, including one who had to be taken to North Dakota.
Dr. David Persse, who is health authority for the Houston Health Department and EMS medical director, said some ambulances were waiting hours to offload patients at Houston area hospitals because no beds were available.
Persse said he feared this would lead to prolonged respond times to 911 medical calls.
'The health care system right now is nearly at a breaking point... For the next three weeks or so, I see no relief on what´s happening in emergency departments,' Persse said Thursday.
At another Houston hospital group, patients are waiting up to 24 hours to get a bed.
Matthew Schlueter, the chief nursing officer of ambulatory care with the Harris Health System, told ABC13 the situation is worse now than last year when the virus ravaged the nation and there was no vaccine.
'We're looking at a much more serious situation, even compared to last year, and last year was devastating for so many people and so many hospitals,' he said.
'Right now, if you're not on death's door with the most critical situation... very high likelihood you'll have to wait in our waiting room,' he said.
Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO of Harris Health System, told KHOU11 this week that 50 percent of all patients in the ICU have COVID-19.
Porsa said that despite the renewed outbreak of the virus, the state has not sent any additional resources to help hospitals cope.
One of the group's hospitals, Lyndon B Johnson Hospital, is so full that it is working under an 'internal disaster' code and ambulances are being diverted away from the facility.
An 11-month-old baby girl with COVID-19 had to be airlifted from the hospital Thursday to another site 150 miles away in Temple because of the shortage of paediatric beds in the area.
Ava Amira Rivera was suffering seizures and was having difficulty breathing after testing positive for the virus.
The surge in infections and the spread of the Delta variant is impacting children with almost 72,000 children and teenagers testing positive for the virus in the week ending July 29 - up 84 percent in a week. Meanwhile, school districts and officials are locked in disputes over COVID-19 restrictions as children prepare to return to schools
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has banned mask mandates in schools
She needed to be intubated but hospitals in the Houston area were already at full capacity.
Video of the infant needing to be airlifted away for treatment is one of the starkest indications that the surge in infections and the spread of the Delta variant is impacting children.
Almost 72,000 children and teenagers tested positive for the virus in the week ending July 29, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This is a dramatic 84 percent spike compared to the 39,000 cases reported just one week before and roughly five times higher than the number of infections among children at the end of June.
CDC data also shows children are getting sick from the virus too with an average of 192 0- to 17-year-olds hospitalized every day this week, an increase of 45.7 percent in a week.
The concerning trend not only dispels the longstanding myth that COVID-19 is not harmful to young people but is also indicative of the fact that most US children are yet to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, school districts and officials are locked in disputes over COVID-19 restrictions as children prepare to return to schools, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banning mask mandates in the classroom.
DeSantis issued an executive order last week banning schools from issuing mask mandates for students when they return to class next month and vowed that Florida will not introduce any new COVID-19 restrictions.
The governor threatened to withhold state funding from school districts if they did not comply.
'This virus is highly infectious. If you decide to try to run the game clock out, don't try to do it. This virus will find you, it will infect you eventually,' Dr Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN on Wednesday.
'If that's not enough to motivate people to get vaccinated, then the only other things I think we have are the mandates that say: "If you're going to work here or go here...you have to get vaccinated."'
However, experts say that the U.S. is likely following the trajectory of the UK and should see decreases over the next two to three weeks.
On Thursday, the U.S. recorded 92,714 new cases, a 277% increase from the 24,886 average reported three weeks ago and the highest number since mid-February
Additionally, 490 COVID-19 deaths were reported with a seven-day rolling average of 411, the first time the average has surpassed 400 since June 9
The White House says seven states - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Texas - account for half of new cases and hospitalizations despite making up a quarter of the population
Florida is currently recording the highest number of average infections per day in the nation with 18,454 reported on Wednesday.
This means the Sunshine State has seen cases rise by 76 percent in two weeks from an average of 10,452 cases per day, aanalysis of data from Johns Hopkins University shows.
Additionally, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) says hospitalizations are up 13 percent from the peak of 10,170 seen on July 23, 2020.
Currently, 84 percent of all inpatient beds and 86.5 percent of ICU beds are occupied.
The FHA also said that it expects up to 60 percent of hospitals in Florida to face a 'critical staffing shortage' within the next week.
Additionally, the state 255 pediatric patients hospitalized with confirmed and suspected COVID-19, behind only Texas and California, federal data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) show.
'In our previous iteration of the pandemic, it was more they're positive but they're not sick or minimally sick,' Dr Ronald Ford, chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare System's Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood told the Miami Herald.
'This is different...There's a much higher percentage of pediatric patients becoming infected and symptomatic.'
In Florida, infections have risen by 76% in two weeks from an average of 18,454 cases per day to 10,452 (left). The Florida Hospital Association says hospitalizations are up 13% from the peak of 10,170 seen on July 23, 2020 (right)
Cases in Texas have soared by 126 percent over the last 14 days from an average of 5,207 per day to 11,775 per day (left). Hospitalizations have reached 7,600, which is a number not seen since mid February (right)
In Louisiana, cases are rising rapidly, up 64% from an average of 2,414 per day to 3,965 per day (left). There are currently 2,247 Covid patients hospitalized, which is a record-high number (right)
Meanwhile, in Texas , cases are also rising rapidly from an average of 5,207 per day to 11,775 per day, up 126 percent over the last two weeks, theanalysis found.
In a video conference on Wednesday, state officials said the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, are showing rising faster than at any other point during the pandemic.
According to the state's Department of Health, 7,600 patients are currently hospitalized with the virus, a number not seen since mid February.
Texas also has the highest number of children patients hospitalized with the virus at 530, according to federal data.
'Texas is experiencing a sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations, and this has been driven by the Delta variant,' Dr Jennifer Shuford, the state's chief epidemiologist, said in the video conference.
'We're seeing increased hospitalizations in every age group, including our pediatric age group.'
The state's vaccination rate is behind the national average with 43 percent of residents having received at least one dose and only 37.1 percent fully vaccinated, CDC data show.
In Louisiana, a mix of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates are creating the most severe wave the state has ever seen.
Over the last two weeks, average COVID-19 cases have increased by 64 percent from 2,414 per day to 3,965 per day, aanalysis found.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, there are currently 2,247 Covid patients hospitalized, which is a record-high number, 89 percent of whom are not vaccinated.
State data shows that 18 to 29-year-olds are the fastest-growing group contracting the virus and being hospitalized.
WWL reports that state data show the 18-to-29 age group
The Bayou State has currently one of the worse vaccination rates in the county.
According to data from the CDC, just 43 percent of residents have received at least one dose and 37.1 percent are fully vaccinated.
'None of us imagined it could get this bad,' Ecoee Rooney, president of the Louisiana State Nurses Association, told Reuters.
Rooney said that nurses are facing exhaustion as beds fill up, but many Louisianans continue to deny the existence of the virus.
'We have COVID patients who don't believe they even have COVID, because they refuse to believe it exists,' she told Reuters.
'We're feeling the brunt of the frustration and the anxiety about what our future looks like if people don't get vaccinated and wear masks.'
Meanwhile, the UK's daily COVID-19 cases continue to remain far below the mid-July peak, although declines are starting to plateau.
Figures from the Department of Health releases on Thursday show 30,215 new cases, which is up three percent from the 31,117 reported last Thursday.
What's mire, the the seven-day rolling average for infections - which paints a clearer picture of the actual trend - has sat for the fourth day at 26,000, after straight declines for nearly two weeks.
A MailOnline analysis has suggested the trend may linked to rising cases among 15-to-24-year-olds, which scientists claimed was likely sparked by 'Freedom Day,' on which the UK lifted most pandemic restrictions.
But experts did not rule out lower vaccination rates in the age groups and colder weather towards the end of the month also being behind the increase.
Daily COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to fall after dropping by a fifth in a week, down 20 percent, to 727 admissions at the start of August, the latest date available.
Another 86 deaths were also recorded, similar to the 85 announced at the same time last week.