After months of warnings that vaccinations would ward off a COVID-19 disaster, the U.S. is sailing toward a holiday crisis.
Cases and hospital admissions are rising amid a season of family gatherings. Most victims have shunned inoculations. The situation is especially dire in the chilly Northeastern states, but doctors in many places report a grimly repetitive cycle of admission, intensive care and death. There are shortages of beds and staff to care for the suffering.
“We’re in desperate shape,” said Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, the state’s worst hot spot.
In 12 states and the nation’s capital, the seven-day average of admissions with confirmed Covid-19 has climbed at least 50% from two weeks earlier, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. The areas with the largest percentage upticks were Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Vermont and Rhode Island. […]
Illinois had 3,178 Covid hospitalizations as of Wednesday, the highest since January, according to the state health department. Six of the state’s 11 regions had 20 or fewer intensive-care beds available.
* NBC 5…
All 102 counties in the state of Illinois are currently experiencing “high transmission” levels of COVID-19, while many are also experiencing dramatic growth in other metrics designed to illustrate how rapidly the virus is spreading.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a county to have a “high transmission” rate of COVID if 100 or more residents per 100,000 individuals have contracted the virus in a given week.
Currently, all 102 of Illinois’ counties have hit that threshold, according to the latest data from IDPH and the CDC, and no state is currently lower than 208 cases per 100,000 residents.
Piatt County, located just to the west of Champaign County, is reporting one of the state’s highest totals, with 881.06 cases per 100,000 residents in the last week. That is nearly nine times more than the CDC’s “high transmission” threshold, and the county’s positivity rate is also above 10%, according to IDPH data. […]
Cook County has one of the lowest positivity rates in the state, currently sitting at 4.15% in the last week. The county has reported 14,878 new COVID cases in the last week, averaging 288.88 new cases per 100,000 residents. That mark is nearly three times higher than the “high transmission” threshold from the CDC, but is also one of the lowest rates in the state.
Full county list is here.
* Via the BN-D, our southwestern neighbor has gone plum crazy…
Although COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the St. Louis area and in the metro-east, St. Louis County rescinded its mask mandate on Thursday based on a judge’s ruling.
The Illinois mask mandate remains in effect in the metro-east. Herb Simmons, director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, said he “can’t say for sure” whether St. Louis County’s decision would affect infection rates in the metro-east but he noted “that’s a possibility.” […]
The St. Louis Pandemic Task Force, which has 24 hospitals, including three in the metro-east, said the seven-day average of COVID patients has doubled over the past month. This number stood at 440 on Wednesday and 454 on Thursday.
* WAND TV…
Hospitals in central Illinois are filling up as a post-Thanksgiving surge leaves many with severe cases of COVID-19.
In Region 6, which includes Macon and Champaign counties, there are just 20 ICU beds available.
“A lot of patients are dying. We are not in good shape nowadays, it’s really bad,” said Dr. Imtiaz Bangash, who has been working in the COVID-19 unit of St. Mary’s Hospital throughout the pandemic.
He’s treated hundreds of patients over the past 20 months, but some faces he’ll never forget.
“The patient was young, and he died actually, and I took care of that patient for almost 7 to 10 days,” Bangash said as he described a COVID-19 patient that passed away just a few days ago.
In the past two weeks, Bangash said he’s started treating more young COVID-19 patients with more severe symptoms.
Though [St. John’s registered nurse Ashley Rodrick] said she tried to tell one patient that there was no need to fear COVID-19 vaccines, which has been proven more than 90% effective at preventing severe illness and death, the patient told her, “I don’t want it messing with my DNA.”
Rodrick said she witnessed one COVID-19 patient argue with a doctor over whether St. John’s medical equipment confirming the patient’s reduced blood-oxygen level related to COVID-19 was accurate.
The patient asked the doctor, “How do you know the machine’s not lying?” according to Rodrick.
Some unvaccinated patients have refused antiviral medicines such as remdesivir, which are accepted treatments to help COVID-19 patients recover, she said.
The patients viewed the treatment as a conspiracy by the medical establishment, Rodrick said. “They really want to believe there’s someone to blame,” she said.
Chicago officials are considering requiring those who gather in “high-risk settings” where masks cannot be worn to offer proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have tested negative for the virus, Chicago’s top doctor said Thursday.
Several members of the Chicago City Council’s Health and Human Relations Committee urged Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, to put those requirements in place quickly as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago reached the highest level since January 2021, according to city data.
“We have to do more if we want to get past this economically,” said Ald. Michele Smith (43rd Ward).
Arwady said “preliminary conversations” were taking place with representatives of business groups about requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for diners or revelers, but no decision had been made.
The rules may be necessary “while we are in a big surge like this,” especially in places where people cannot keep their masks on, Arwady said, telling alderpeople that there was no timeline for a decision to be made.
The Chicago Bulls are down to 11 players as they travel to Florida for Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat after Derrick Jones Jr. on Thursday became the fifth player to enter the NBA’s COVID-19 protocol in the last nine days.
The Bulls have not gone more than two days in nearly two weeks without a player entering the COVID-19 protocol — Coby White (Dec. 1), Javonte Green (Friday), DeMar DeRozan (Sunday), Matt Thomas (Tuesday) and now Jones.