US COVID-19 hospital cases match winter surge

Hospital ventilation equipment
Hospital ventilation equipment

Patrik Slezak / iStock

More than 100,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, a level not seen since Jan 30, when the pandemic reached its peak in the United States, the Washington Post reports.

Hospitalizations are highest across the South, where unvaccinated communities especially vulnerable to the Delta (B1617.2) variant have seen a surge of virus activity since the July 4 weekend, a time that was supposed to mark the country’s independence from the virus. Florida has the most hospitalizations in the country, with 17,000, followed by Texas, with 14,000.

Yesterday, the United States reported 148,143 new COVID-19 cases and 1,456 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new daily cases is 152,341, according to the New York Times tracker.

Late summer events and the start of school have also proved fertile ground for the virus. Now, 2 weeks after the Sturgis motorcycle rally, reported COVID-19 cases in South Dakota have risen nearly sixfold, NBC News reports. The state counted 3,819 new cases in the past 2 weeks, compared with 644 in the 14 days preceding the rally.

And in a signs that school openings are contributing to virus spread, teens ages 16 and 17 have the highest rate of coronavirus infections among all US age groups, based on weekly COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to a CNN analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.  

The age group, which is eligible for vaccination, is seeing 160.3 weekly COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to the data. Adolescents ages 12 to 15 had a weekly case rate of 152.7 per 100,000 people, while children ages 5 to 11 saw a weekly rate of 137, and kids younger than 5 had a rate of 79.4.

Half of Americans OK with vaccine mandates

Half of American workers are in favor of vaccine requirements at their workplaces, according to a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. Another half are in favor of mask mandates when working in person.

Black and Hispanic poll respondents were more likely to support mask requirements than their White counterparts, and 53% of Black and Hispanic workers support vaccine mandates at their workplaces, as do 44% of White workers.

In related news, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned government vaccine mandates despite full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, ordering "no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine."

Only the Pfizer vaccine is currently approved by the FDA, but federal regulators are likely to approve a COVID-19 booster shot for vaccinated adults starting at least 6 months after the previous dose, rather than 8 months, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. Approval for boosters for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines is expected in mid-September. 

CDC warns of ivermectin misuse

Poison control centers across the nation have received an uptick in calls about ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug used in livestock that some have promoted as a treatment for COVID-19, USA Today reports. Ivermectin has not been found to prevent or treat COVID-19, but misinformation about the drug has spread on the Internet.

Today, the CDC released a Health Alert Network (HAN) advisory, noting that poison control centers across the country received a 3-fold increase in calls about human exposures to ivermectin in January 2021 compared with the pre-pandemic baseline. In July, the calls increased 5-fold from baseline.

“These reports are also associated with increased frequency of adverse effects and emergency department/hospital visits,” the CDC said.

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