Several states seeing surges in COVID-19 cases are dealing with such an influx of sick residents that hospital beds are drying up.
New Mexico’s top health officials have had to establish a waiting list for intensive care unit beds for the first time ever and they’re warning that the state is about a week away from having to ration medical care as coronavirus infections climb and nurses are in short supply.
Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said there was a 20% increase in COVID patients in just the last day, and that New Mexico is on pace to surpass its worst-case projections for cases and hospitalizations. Data shows 90% of the cases since February have been among the unvaccinated.
He said the result may be that “we’re going to have to choose who gets care and who doesn’t get care, and we don’t want to get to that point.”
The number of cases in Ohio is also causing some hospitals to plan for possibly halting elective procedures that require an overnight stay due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“Due to the fluid nature of this fourth surge, we will continually monitor capacity and pause or resume elective surgeries with an overnight stay as needed,” read a statement from OhioHealth, which operates 12 hospitals across the state.
Three OhioHealth hospitals’ intensive care units were above 90% capacity as of the week of Aug. 13, the most recent date for which capacity data was available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. One was 99% full, the data shows.
Also in the news:
► About 89% of federal rental assistance approved by Congress remains unspent even as a potential eviction crisis looms.
►Massachusetts issued a mask mandate for K-12 students statewide, requiring students over the age of 5 to wear face coverings indoors until at least October.
►Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is facing two lawsuits over pandemic-related policies. One suit targets her decision to end a set of federal unemployment benefit programs early and the other concerns the state’s ban on mask mandates in schools.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 38 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 632,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 213 million cases and 4.4 million deaths. More than 171 million Americans — 51.7% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘What we’re reading: Labor Day is approaching. Here’s what you should know if you’re planning a getaway amid COVID-19 and the delta surge. Read more here.
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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, on her first day in office, acknowledged nearly 12,000 more deaths in the state from COVID-19 than had been publicized by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
New York now reports nearly 55,400 people have died of COVID-19 in New York based on death certificate data submitted to the CDC, up from about 43,400 that Cuomo had reported to the public as of Monday, his last day in office.
“We’re now releasing more data than had been released before publicly, so people know the nursing home deaths and the hospital deaths are consistent with what’s being displayed by the CDC,” Hochul said Wednesday on MSNBC. “There’s a lot of things that weren’t happening and I’m going to make them happen. Transparency will be the hallmark of my administration.”
The Associated Press first reported in July on the large discrepancy between the fatality numbers publicized by the Cuomo administration and numbers the state was reporting to the CDC. Cuomo’s critics had long charged that he was manipulating coronavirus statics to burnish his image as a pandemic leader.
Federal prosecutors previously launched a probe examining his administration’s handling of data around deaths among nursing home patients. The state, under Cuomo, had minimized its toll of nursing home residents’ deaths by excluding all patients who died after being transferred to hospitals.
It’s the top challenge for schools welcoming students back this fall: what to do about all the children who missed huge chunks of class time, whether in person or from home, during the pandemic.
Yet 17 months after the coronavirus first swept the nation, few of America’s largest districts can provide a clear picture of which students fall into that category – raising questions about whether schools are ready for the challenge of catching students up and preparing them for adulthood.
Research suggests children who are chronically absent – meaning they miss at least 10% of a given school year – are at risk of eventually dropping out.
USA TODAY reached out to a sampling of school districts, including the country’s 10 largest before the pandemic upended enrollment, requesting data on students who were chronically absent during the past three school years. Read more here.
— Alia Wong
Contributing: The Associated Press.