If You Live Here, You're in Danger, Virus Experts Warn
As the calendar turns to October, nationwide COVID-19 cases continue to flatten and decline. But in some regions of the country, the virus hasn't heard the news. Several states are reporting double-digit increases in new cases and hospitalizations, leading to serious shortages of hospital beds and at least one governor imploring his constituents to get vaccinated while warning of an imminently rising death toll. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
On Wednesday, Alaska reported its worst surge of the pandemic—a COVID-19 case rate that was five times the national average and twice that of West Virginia, which has the second-highest caseload nationwide. Some hospitals are rationing care. Before the pandemic, Alaska hospitals were already close to capacity on a regular basis, Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, told NBC News on Wednesday. Now the state's far-flung medical system is badly strained. "It's not just about driving down the street or even driving two or three hours to an ER hospital," said Zink. "This is multiple flights and sometimes takes days to be able to get to any hospitals."
On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice said the number of West Virginians in ICUs with COVID-19 had reached an all-time high. "We're gonna lose a bunch more people, West Virginia, no question about that," he said. "All I can possibly do, with a good conscience, is continue to urge you, in every way, to get vaccinated." The state's number of adults who are fully vaccinated—48%—ranks last in the nation.
This week, Montana reported the largest number of ICU patients at any point in the pandemic. "The state is in the middle of a massive COVID-19 surge," the Deseret News said Tuesday. The ICU at the largest hospital in Montana is running at 150% capacity, and the National Guard has been called in to help process patients, CBS News reported Wednesday. "People need to get vaccinated because right now we're hurting," said an emergency room doctor.
According to the New York Times' COVID data tracker, Wisconsin's new COVID cases are up 33%, and hospitalizations up 11%, over 14 days ago. On Wednesday, the state's health department declared that cases were "critically high" in 21 counties."The lack of beds due to COVID-19 patients remains a problem for many hospitals statewide," WBAY reported.
North Dakota has the nation's fifth-highest number of new COVID cases per 100,000 residents, and unlike two states in that top five, cases are surging—up 20% in the last two weeks, according to the Times' tracker. "Hospital capacity remains a concern, with fewer than 12% of staffed beds available in North Dakota," the Bismarck Tribune reported on Wednesday, as the state's governor urged residents to get a flu shot to avoid overwhelming hospitals as flu season begins.
On Wednesday, Maine reported its highest single-day count of new COVID cases, the Bangor Daily News reported. About two-thirds to three-fourths of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated; in intensive care units, that number rises to 90%, the Sun-Journal says.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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