According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the US has now tallied more than 40 million Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 4 million of them being reported within the last four weeks alone.
40 million represents the official number of positive tests that have been reported in the US, but experts believe that number is likely much larger. Covid-19 cases began rising again in the US earlier this summer due to the spreading of multiple variants and a lack of individuals getting vaccinated.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, which has been compiling information since the beginning of the pandemic, the nation’s seven-day average of new cases is about 137,200, which is four times higher than the numbers we were experiencing this time last year (around 39,300).
Overcrowded hospitals and healthcare facilities are leading to a rise in infections among children, especially considering the majority of individuals who are being hospitalized are unvaccinated and are contributing to the spread of the virus. Labor Day weekend last year led to a major surge in over 30 states.
Only 53% of the US population is fully vaccinated, and only 62% of eligible Americans have received their inoculations; which has left tens of millions of other Americans vulnerable and susceptible to sickness.
“Here’s the important thing: Everyone that I’m hospitalizing is not vaccinated. We are, by and large across the country, not needing to hospitalize people that have gotten both doses of the vaccine. This is a disease of the unvaccinated right now.”
Dr. Megan Ranney, a professor of emergency medicine at Brown University spoke about how unvaccinated Americans are the main reason the virus is continuing to spread and mutate into the variants we’re seeing appear all over the world. Alabama, Wyoming, Idaho, Mississippi, and West Virginia all have less than 40% of their populations vaccinated, according to the CDC. In Alabama and Mississippi, all ICU units are at at least 90% capacity.
“The takeaway for everyone is get your shots and certainly wear a mask for that added layer of protection if you’re in public indoor spaces right now,” Ranney said.
“Adults need to get vaccinated in order to protect young children returning to school. The way you protect children who, because of their age, cannot get vaccinated yet is to surround the children — be it friends, family, school teachers, personnel in the school — surround the children with vaccinated people,” director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
With kids returning to schools, another major issue is a lot of schools don’t have access to proper healthcare workers and nurses. It’s estimated a quarter of schools in the US don’t have a nurse at all. According to the Journal of School Nursing, 39% of schools employ full-time nurses and about 35% employ part-time nurses. 25% of all schools don’t employ nurses at all.
“The nation has had a shortage of school nurses for years, but the pandemic now sheds light on just how dire the shortage has become. Additionally, schools in the rural regions appear to be significantly more likely than schools in urban areas to report having no nurse at all”
According to the study published in the Journal of School Nursing in 2018, 23.5% of rural schools report having no nurse compared with 10.3% of urban schools.
“Funding is a key issue. There is an inconsistent mishmash of state and local funding that puts small rural school districts with inadequate tax bases at a disadvantage, and those areas also are likely to have a shortage of primary care pediatric health care providers as well,” said Laura Searcy, a pediatric nurse practitioner who is a past president of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
The US Food and Drug Administration is planning to meet on September 17th to discuss the possibility of distributing Covid-19 booster shots. Last month the White House said individuals who received two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine may receive boosters starting September 20th, depending on the date of their second dose.
Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia spoke this week about how he’s eager for boosters to begin being distributed: “If we could just get the go-ahead from our government to absolutely start administering these booster shots, we would be all over that and we’ll be doing that immediately. We’re ready to go, we’ve got people that are well beyond six months that are 60 and older that need the booster shot. And we can’t give it to them because we’re being held up by, you know, the nation and on the federal level right now,” Justice said.
According to medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, the most important thing America needs to focus on right now is getting unvaccinated Americans their shots before the virus has the opportunity to continue to multiply.
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