US COVID-19 cases top 40 million; Biden to deliver new plan

Mask required sign
Mask required sign

Chad Davis / Flickr cc

In 2 days President Joe Biden will announce a new six-point plan to battle the current surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the highly transmissible Delta (B1617.2) variant and an uneven vaccination campaign that has left only half of the nation fully protected from the novel coronavirus.

The speech will come as America faces two milestones: Over the holiday weekend, the country topped 40 million cases of the virus, the largest tally in the world, and the number of hospitalized Americans is now double what it was last Labor Day. Yesterday, almost 100,000 (99,823) Americans were in hospitals because of COVID-19 infections.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States' 7-day average of new cases yesterday was 137,270. The average on Labor Day of last year was 39,355.

The United States reported 73,331 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 530 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the United States has confirmed 40,172,815 COVID-19 cases, including 649,973 deaths.

Fewer available ICU beds

At least six states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas, have more than 90% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds occupied.

Oregon and Idaho also report that they are running out of ICU beds, as surges in recent weeks have left hospitals short-staffed. Both states have deployed the National Guard to help with hospitalized patients.

Anecdotally, doctors are sharing on Twitter that most hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows that, as of Saturday, 53.2% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and 62.5% have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The only group that cannot get vaccinated in the United States are those under age 12, a group many experts worry about as school starts in person across the country this week.

Even though the data needed to support authorization are still being collected, Politico reports that pressure is mounting at the Food and Drug Administration to approve the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the pediatric population.

Last week, the CDC released new data showing that hospital admissions for unvaccinated children have risen 10-fold since June.

Other US developments

  • The coronavirus variant known as Mu has been detected in 167 people over the summer in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reports. Mu has been declared a variant of interest by the World Health Organization.

  • The nation's poison control centers saw a 245% increase in reported ivermectin exposure cases from July to August, NPR reports.

  • With the Delta variant pushing back return-to-the-office dates for many companies, a survey of major employers shows that only 23% of Manhattan office workers have returned to the office, according to the Wall Street Journal. A survey in May had projected that 62% of workers would be back in the office by September.

This week's top reads