Virus Experts Say If You Live Here, You're in Danger
As summer winds to a close, the highly contagious Delta variant means that COVID-19 cases continue to surge nationwide—particularly among unvaccinated people, and particularly in states that have vaccination rates lower than the national average. Over the last week, the increase in COVID cases is at crisis proportions in these five states, experts say. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Last week, Florida notched its all-time COVID death record, and Orlando's mayor asked residents to conserve water usage so liquid oxygen, normally used to treat water, could be diverted to hospitals to treat COVID patients. Dr. Vincent Hsu, executive director of infection prevention and epidemiologist at AdventHealth, called the state's situation "a crisis of unprecedented proportions."
On Sunday, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb called Florida "the epicenter of the epidemic in this country." He noted that the state's most recent surge has leveled off in all age groups except one: children age 6 to 19. "That's the only category that's still expanding and expanding very quickly." He said schools may become "unsafe" environments if the disease continues to spread.
Last week, the state reported its greatest shortage of ICU beds since the pandemic began, and it's estimated the Delta variant is infecting unvaccinated Texans at rates eight times that of earlier variants. "We are entering the worst surge in sheer numbers," Dr. Mark Casanova, a member of the Texas Medical Association's COVID-19 Task Force, told the Texas Tribune. "This is the fourth round of what should have been a three-round fight. We do have very sincere concerns that the numbers game is going to overwhelm us."
Alabama has run out of ICU beds and set a state record for the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19, NPR News reported last Thursday. "We've never been here before. We are truly now in uncharted territory in terms of our ICU bed capacity," Alabama Hospital Association President Donald Williamson told WSFA 12 News last Tuesday. Only 12% of hospitalized COVID patients are fully vaccinated.
This month, Mississippi set a new single-day record for COVID hospitalizations and patients placed in intensive care and on ventilators. As of last Thursday, seven ICU beds were available statewide for 96 patients who needed them. "We are clearly at the worst part of the pandemic that we've seen throughout, and it's continuing to worsen," Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told NBC News.
The state has had an "astronomical" increase in COVID-19 cases, said Gov. John Bel Edwards, who told CNN infections are particularly increasing in younger people. For the last couple of days, 28% of all the new cases that we're reporting are in children zero to 17," he said on Friday.
Dr. Catherine O'Neal, the chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge told The Advocate her hospital is preparing for a "breakdown in the health care safety net." She said if case numbers don't decline, hospitals won't have the resources to treat patients who suffer everyday injuries.
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 visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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