US Faces Testing Shortage and Rising Hospitalizations

US Faces Testing Shortage and Rising Hospitalizations

As the COVID-19 testing shortage exacerbates a growing crisis of new hospitalizations, more states in the United States are racing to help hospitals and healthcare networks with staff and supplies.

Staff shortages are increasing as front-line healthcare workers, who are at increased risk of exposure, are infected and must be quarantined at a time when the spread of the omicron variant is leading more people to the hospitals.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday night that more than 200 members of the National Guard will be deployed to dozens of test sites, joining other states that have mobilized members of the National Guard for medical and non-medical tasks to Help overloaded healthcare facilities.

“It really is, right now, a viral blizzard because there are so many infections,” said Dr. Samer Antonios, clinical director of Ascension Via Christi Health in Kansas, where Governor Laura Kelly signed a state of emergency disaster this week due to the covid-19 challenges.

Nearly 132,000 Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services this Friday, an increase from about 45,000 in early November.

As more patients need care, many people with possible covid-19 symptoms are left without help as tests remain difficult to find, and doctors asked those who suspect they are positive to isolate themselves at home with or without confirmation of infection.

Long lines were part of the course at many test facilities since the holidays. Starting this Saturday, four state-operated test sites in Utah experiencing some of the “highest demands and longest wait times” will be available by appointment due to increased demand, the health department said Friday from Utah.

To try to increase the supply of tests, the Biden administration committed to distribute 500 million free rapid tests nationwide. Officials offered few details, but hope to launch a website this month where people can sign up for the tests online and then receive them in the mail.

The first contract to acquire tests has been signed and more are expected in the coming weeks, officials told Citizen Free Press on Friday.

Vaccine requirements change

Nearly two-thirds of Americans eligible to receive a vaccine, anyone age 5 and older, have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. inoculated and reinforced is much lower, since 22% of the total population has done so.

The US Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization for Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine on Friday, shortening the time period between the initial vaccination and the booster vaccination by at least six months. to five months for those over 18 years of age.

“Vaccination is our best defense against covid-19, including circulating variants, and shortening the time between completion of a primary series and a booster dose can help reduce waning immunity,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA Center for Biological Evaluation and Research.

The FDA has already shortened the time needed before receiving a booster shot of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine from six to five months. The Pfizer booster is licensed for everyone 12 years of age and older.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday that she is forcing all healthcare workers to receive a booster vaccine against Covid-19 within two weeks of eligibility.

“Healthcare workers will be asked to do this with no exemptions other than a medical exemption and no trial options,” Hochul said. Previously, all healthcare workers had to be fully vaccinated in September.

Neighboring Connecticut issued a similar order Thursday as long-term care staff and hospital employees are due to receive booster doses in the coming weeks.

Debate on security measures for covid-19 in schools

With children’s hospitalizations reaching new records, concerns for student safety remain skyrocketing. However, disputes over whether in-person learning is ideal during the omicron surge are brewing in several school districts this week.

Nearly 13% of New York City students tested positive for COVID-19 over a 24-hour period, according to a test sample from the city’s department of education on Thursday. No schools are closed at this time due to COVID-19 cases, according to additional DOE data, but six school classrooms remain closed.

The Chicago Public School system has canceled classes as of Wednesday due to a dispute between city officials and the teachers union over a return to the classroom, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she wants an agreement between the two parties to be completed. this weekend.

“Our children need to go back to school. Schools are safe,” she told Citizen Free Press’s Anderson Cooper.

The Chicago Teachers Union had voted to teach remotely due to the rise in covid-19, but the school district canceled classes, saying it wanted to learn in person.

In Georgia, public school teachers who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to isolate themselves before returning to school, and contact tracing in schools is no longer a requirement, according to a letter to school leaders. Posted Thursday by Governor Brian Kemp and Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey.

The Georgia Department of Public Health published an updated administrative order on Wednesday allowing teachers and school personnel, regardless of vaccination status, to return to work after exposure to COVID-19 or a positive test for COVID-19 if they remain asymptomatic and wear a mask while at work.

“Students, parents, and educators have made it clear to us that they want to be in the classroom, and we are looking for many methods to safely continue in-person learning, including updated isolation and quarantine protocols, reduced contact tracing requirements, and Augmented testing opportunities,” Kemp and Toomey’s letter read.

Local school districts can still develop and follow their own quarantine and isolation requirements, in accordance with the order.

Ben Oakley
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