Despite recent gains in the U.S. in vaccination rates and a slight decline in reported cases in some of the hardest-hit states, the latest COVID-19 surge has some hospitals back where they were early in the pandemic — strapped for crucial oxygen.
Hospitals in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Augusta, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, among others, are having conversations about what to do if they run out of oxygen and ventilators.
In Tulsa, Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe, the chief medical officer for the EMS system that serves Tulsa and Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press that one hospital came within hours of running out of oxygen and had to call 911 for an emergency transfer of a patient on high-flow oxygen.
“If it can happen to one hospital, it can happen to any hospital,” Goodloe said.
Augusta University Medical Center ordered 12 additional ventilators to meet the need with the latest surge in hospitalizations for COVID.
And in Lexington, emergency room doctors are pre-emptively discussing whether multiple people can be placed on the same ventilator, AP reported.
Oxygen has proven useful at treating COVID patients, hospitals have found. A method using high-flow through oxygen tubes uses up to three times the amount of oxygen that was used to treat patients toward the start of the pandemic, Andy Brailo, chief customer officer for supply purchaser Premier, told AP.
Also in the news:
► The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added two U.S. territories to its list of destinations with “very high” COVID-19 risk, advising Americans against traveling to Puerto Rico and Guam.
► Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that all public and private schools will have mandatory masking beginning Sept. 7, after he said most of the state’s 500 districts did not impose their own mask requirements.
► The recession triggered by the COVID pandemic has pushed Social Security one year closer to insolvency, the government reported Tuesday. Projections show Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits in 2034, which is one year sooner than previous projections.
► Kiss frontman Paul Stanley tested positive Thursday, forcing the band to postpone a string of shows over subsequent days. On Tuesday, the band announced that bassist Gene Simmons, too, has tested positive for COVID-19.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 39 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 640,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 217 million cases and 4.5 million deaths. More than 174 million Americans — 52.4% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: International health agencies don’t list it as a “variant of concern.” Still, scientists are keeping a close eye on mutations of the original coronavirus that might turn more dangerous. The latest one garnering attention is the C.1.2 variant. Read more.
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80% of Californians at least partially vaccinated
California has hit an encouraging milestone in the effort to combat the coronavirus: 80% of eligible residents have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that California’s vaccinated rate has been increasing, with an average of 600,000 doses administered in the last two weeks.
“But again, 80% is not where we need to go. We still need to reach out to those that are on the fence,” Newsom said.
Newsom has required all state employees, teachers and health care workers to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, likely accounting for an increase in vaccines.
The U.S. is averaging 900,000 vaccinations per day, up from 500,000 per day in mid-July, the White House said Tuesday. The pace of first shots is accelerating, too: The U.S. administered more than 14 million first shots in August – almost 4 million more first shots than in July, he said.
Nationally, 72.2% of the eligible population to get vaccinated, those 12 and older, are at least partially vaccinated, and 61.4% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
-Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
Tennessee underreported COVID-19 hospitalizations
The coronavirus hospitalized about 5,100 more Tennesseans than previously reported over the past 14 months — an increase of more than 20% over prior totals — according to newly backfilled data from the state department of health.
Hospitalizations were underreported by anywhere from one patient to dozens on nearly every day since the start of last summer, according to the new data. The largest share of the unreported hospitalizations occurred during the winter surge.
Tennessee’s revised hospitalization total, including the backfilled data, is 29,694.
Sarah Tanksley, a spokesperson for the health department, said the unreported hospitalizations were now revealed because the agency incorporated a new data source from the Tennessee Hospital Association into its COVID-19 tracking efforts.
-Brett Kelman, The Nashville Tennesseean
Contributing: The Associated Press