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100,000 more COVID deaths expected unless U.S. changes its ways – PBS NewsHour

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The U.S. is projected to see nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1, according to the nation’s most closely watched forecasting model. But health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces.

In other words, what the coronavirus has in store this fall depends on human behavior.

“Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainably the current wave subsides,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We cannot stop delta in its tracks, but we can change our behavior overnight.”

That means doubling down again on masks, limiting social gatherings, staying home when sick and getting vaccinated. “Those things are within our control,” Meyers said.

READ MORE: What Americans should know about the delta variant, masks — regardless of vaccine status

The U.S. is in the grip of a fourth wave of infection this summer, powered by the highly contagious delta variant, which has sent cases, hospitalizations and deaths soaring again, swamped medical centers, burned out nurses and erased months of progress against the virus.

Deaths are running at over 1,100 a day on average, turning the clock back to mid-March. One influential model, from the University of Washington, projects an additional 98,000 Americans will die by the start of December, for an overall death toll of nearly 730,000.

The projection says deaths will rise to nearly 1,400 a day by mid-September, then decline slowly.

But the model also says many of those deaths can be averted if Americans change their ways.

“We can save 50,000 lives simply by wearing masks. That’s how important behaviors are,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle who is involved in the making of the projections.

READ MORE: Waiving vaccine patent rights may be the ‘only way’ to end the pandemic

Already there are signs that Americans are taking the threat more seriously.

Amid the alarm over the delta variant in the past several weeks, the slump in demand for COVID-19 shots reversed course. The number of vaccinations dispensed per day has climbed around 80% over the past month to an average of about 900,000.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday that in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, “more people got their first shots in the past month than in the prior two months combined.”

Also, millions of students are being required to wear masks. A growing number of employers are demanding their workers get the vaccine after the federal government gave Pfizer’s shot full approval earlier this week. And cities like New York and New Orleans are insisting people get vaccinated if they want to eat at a restaurant.

Half of American workers are in favor of vaccine requirements at their workplaces, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Early signs suggest behavior changes may already be flattening the curve in a few places where the virus raged this summer.

An Associated Press analysis shows the rate of new cases is slowing in Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana and Arkansas, some of the same states where first shots are on the rise. In Florida, pleas from hospitals and a furor over masks in schools may have nudged some to take more precautions.

READ MORE: Examining the politicization of school mask mandates in Florida’s Broward County

However, the troubling trends persist in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming, where new infections continue to rise steadily.

Mokdad said he is frustrated that Americans “aren’t doing what it takes to control this virus.”

“I don’t get it,” he said. “We have a fire and nobody wants to deploy a firetruck.”

One explanation: The good news in the spring — vaccinations rising, cases declining — gave people a glimpse of the way things used to be, said Elizabeth Stuart of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and that made it tough for them to resume the precautions they thought they left behind.

“We don’t need to fully hunker down,” she said, “but we can make some choices that reduce risk.”

Even vaccinated people should stay vigilant, said Dr. Gaby Sauza, 30, of Seattle, who was inoculated over the winter but tested positive for COVID-19 along with other guests days after an Aug. 14 Vermont wedding, even though the festivities were mostly outdoors and those attending had to submit photos of their vaccination cards.

“In retrospect, absolutely, I do wish I had worn a mask,” she said.

Sauza, a resident in pediatrics, will miss two weeks of hospital work and has wrestled with guilt over burdening her colleagues. She credits the vaccine with keeping her infection manageable, though she suffered several days of body aches, fevers, night sweats, fatigue, coughing and chest pain.

“If we behave, we can contain this virus. If we don’t behave, this virus is waiting for us,” Mokdad said. “It’s going to find the weak among us.”

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Is the delta variant of the coronavirus worse for kids? – Delta-Optimist

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Is the delta variant of the coronavirus worse for kids?

Experts say there’s no strong evidence that it makes children and teens sicker than earlier versions of the virus, although delta has led to a surge in infections among kids because it’s more contagious.

Delta’s ability to spread more easily makes it more of a risk to children and underscores the need for masks in schools and vaccinations for those who are old enough, said Dr. Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Weekly infection rates among U.S. children earlier this month topped 250,000, surpassing the wintertime peak, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association. Since the pandemic began, more than 5 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19.

The delta variant has been identified in at least 180 countries, according to the World Health Organization. In many of them, the spike in infections has also meant an increase in hospitalizations in young children and teens.

In the U.S., the hospitalization rate for COVID-19 was less than 2 per 100,000 children in late August and early September — similar to the peak last winter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the portion of kids hospitalized with severe disease hasn’t changed significantly.

The sheer numbers can make it seem like children are getting sicker with the delta variant, but experts say that does not appear to be the case. Most infected kids have mild infections or no symptoms and do not need to be hospitalized.

COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide protection against delta. Among children 12 and older — who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations — the weekly hospitalization rate in July was 10 times higher for the unvaccinated than those who have had the shots, CDC data show.

___

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read more here:

What can employers do if workers avoid COVID-19 vaccines?

Can I get ‘long COVID’ if I’m infected after vaccination?

Can kids be harmed wearing masks to protect against COVID?

Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press


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Data from 3 major hospital systems reveals how many COVID-19 patients are fully vaccinated – Bring Me The News

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While the COVID vaccines are shown to be effective albeit not bulletproof at preventing infection from the virus, their effectiveness at preventing hospitalization and death is much greater.

Four Minnesota healthcare institutions provided specific data that shows the percentage of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are fully vaccinated, and how many are unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated.

Allina Health, which has 14 hospitals in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, reports that almost four out of five COVID-19 patients hospitalized through Sept. 20 were unvaccinated.

Its data show that of 176 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Sept. 20, 32 were in the ICU and 21 required a ventilator. Hospitalized patients who were fully vaccinated represented 22.7% of the total, and just 15.6% of the ICU cases and 9.5% of the cases with a ventilator. 

Credit: Allina Health

HealthPartners, which has nine hospitals in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, told Bring Me The News that it has cared for 338 COVID-19 patients in the past 30 days and 53 of them (15.7%) were fully vaccinated. 

“Of those 53 patients, only six required intensive care, two needed the support of a ventilator and nobody died. Year-to-date, 6.3% of hospitalized patients have been fully vaccinated,” a spokesperson from HealthPartners said. 

Sanford Health, which operates 22 regional hospitals, is reporting that 10.1% of all COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Sept. 21 were fully vaccinated. Only two of 45 in the ICU and one of 34 patients on a ventilator were fully vaxxed,

Hospitalizations (1)

Sanford Health

More of the same from CentraCare, which operates eight hospitals in the region. The latest data provided Thursday (it changes daily and even hourly) had six of 67 COVID-19 inpatients documented as fully vaccinated. 

COVID-19 Hospitalizations_9.23.2021

CentraCare

To recap, that’s four major hospital systems that are reporting between 9% and 22% of all COVID-19 patients being fully vaccinated, with even lower percentages of vaccinated patients in the ICU or on a ventilator. 

“COVID-19 vaccines continue to be our best tool in stopping the spread of infection and preventing serious illness and death,” the HealthPartners spokesperson said.

Bring Me The News has requested vaccinated and unvaccinated ratios from other major providers, including Mayo Clinic Health Systems, Hennepin Healthcare and Essentia Health. 

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330 people are in BC hospitals with COVID-19 – MY PG NOW

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B.C. is reporting 832 new cases of COVID-19, 117 in Northern Health, 153 in Interior Health.

There are 5,697 active cases in the province, of those cases, 330 individuals are in hospital and 148 are in intensive care.

The north has 977 active cases, and the interior has 1,181.

87.3% of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a vaccine and 79.9% received their second dose.

The new/active cases include:

* 377 new cases in Fraser Health
* Total active cases: 1,932

* 114 new cases in Vancouver Coastal Health
* Total active cases: 909

* 153 new cases in Interior Health
* Total active cases: 1,181

* 117 new cases in Northern Health
* Total active cases: 977

* 71 new cases in Island Health
* Total active cases: 654

* no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada
* Total active cases: 44

There were five new deaths reported, one was in Northern Health.

From Sept. 15-21, people not fully vaccinated accounted for 75.5% of cases and from Sept. 8-21, they accounted for 82.6% of hospitalizations.

Past week cases (Sept. 15-21) – Total 4,417

* Not vaccinated: 2,996 (67.8%)

* Partially vaccinated: 342 (7.7%)

* Fully vaccinated: 1,079 (24.4%)

Past two weeks cases hospitalized (Sept. 8-21) – Total 437

* Not vaccinated: 327 (74.8%)

* Partially vaccinated: 34 (7.8%)

* Fully vaccinated: 76 (17.4%)

Past week, cases per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Sept. 15-21)

* Not vaccinated: 289.0

* Partially vaccinated: 87.9

* Fully vaccinated: 27.0

Past two weeks, cases hospitalized per 100,000 population after adjusting for age (Sept. 8-21)

* Not vaccinated: 46.5

* Partially vaccinated: 13.3

* Fully vaccinated: 1.8

After factoring for age, people not vaccinated are 25.8 times more likely to be hospitalized than those fully vaccinated.

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