When experts say the US boom may be peaking

By Susannah Cullinane, CNN

(CNN) – current covid-19 boom A health expert says that in the US, powered by the Omicron version, could peak later this month – but the next few weeks are crucial.

Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, has warned that long-term planning is needed to avoid the continued strain on the health care system, as hospitals are full, schools struggle to keep students in the classroom and Getting to the test remains difficult. ,

“We are seeing two kinds of things happening: a lot of vaccinated people getting infected. We’re doing fine. Avoid getting sick especially, avoiding hospital; A lot of illiterate people and people at high risk who haven’t been promoted and are really filling up hospitals, and so our hospital systems are under a lot of stress,” Jha told ABC’s “This Week.”

“Then we have to start thinking about a long-term strategy on how we manage to manage this virus and not feel like we don’t have a long-term outlook,” Jha said.

According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 24% of hospitals are reporting a “severe shortage of staff.”

Of the nearly 5,000 hospitals that reported this data to HHS on Saturday, about 1,200 – about 1 in 4 – said they currently face a significant staffing shortfall, the biggest part of the entire pandemic. . More than 100 other hospitals said they anticipate a reduction within the next week.

The shortage of these staff is increasing as frontline health care workers are either infected or forced into quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, as the demand for treatment skyrockets: over 138,000 COVID-19 patients were in american hospitals until Sunday, HHS. According to, This is no more than an all-time peak (about 142,200 in mid-January 2021) and about 45,000 in early November.

“I expect this surge to peak in the next few weeks. It will peak at different times in different places in the US, but once we get into February, I’m really looking forward to a very low number of cases.” I hope so,” Jha told ABC.

Testing is one of the key tools for the fight against COVID-19, which is still hard to find in some parts of the US.

As laboratories struggle to meet the growing demand for COVID-19 tests resulting from a rise in the Omicron variant, at least two health care providers have prioritized coronavirus testing for those exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

Last week, several locations in the University of Washington health care system in Washington state began prioritizing testing solely for people “who have symptoms of respiratory illness or who have symptoms of COVID-19.” There is a known risk to cancer,” spokeswoman Susan Gregg told CNN. People without symptoms are not being tested, Greg said, “due to the high volume of omicron cases being processed in our lab.”

The University of North Carolina Medical Center at Chapel Hill is facing a similar testing crush and is ramping up Covid-19 tests for those displaying Covid-19 symptoms, as well as for university staff and those who need testing before surgery. is also prohibited. UNC Health Director of News Alan M. Wolf.

In Georgia, Department of Health announced The inauguration of two Covid-19 mega-testing sites on Friday, as cases continue to rise across the state. Both sites, which are located just outside of Atlanta, are appointment only. The state health department said it is also in discussions to identify locations for additional testing sites.

Dr. Jonathan Renner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said testing is a major key to controlling the spread of COVID-19, including in schools that are struggling to keep children in classrooms in areas where transmission is high.

“If you want to get children and teachers back into schools, the way to do that is with a multi-pronged approach, which involves filling our schools with testing. Testing kids every week, testing teachers every week, he told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.

balance between health and education

Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third largest school district, is among those struggling to balance health concerns with educational needs.

Classes have been canceled again in the district on Monday fourth consecutive school day, after city officials and the Chicago teachers union failed to reach an agreement over the weekend on how to handle the city covid-19 boom,

The union wants a period of distance learning, citing concerns over Covid safety, while the city wants children in classrooms.

Schools in Atlanta were set to return to in-person classes on Monday after four days of virtual learning.

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Lisa Herring told CNN that the twice-weekly mandatory test for teachers has been extended to students whose parents consent to the test.

“We want, as much as we can, to keep our children inside brick and mortar, but we need that data to be able to effectively support and ensure safety for all,” she said.

Of the roughly 50,000 students, they had received about 20,000 parental consent forms for testing, Herring said, and will continue to encourage further.

“We have created a number of mitigation strategies that can help us keep children and staff clear when we are able to identify positivity data… but to be clear, we also believe that health And to ensure welfare there will be times within schools or classrooms it may be necessary to turn to virtual,” Herring said.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest school district, requires all students and staff to show a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to class on Tuesday.

The baseline testing requirement was implemented at the start of the school year in August, and the district announced a week earlier that both baseline testing, as well as required weekly testing for staff and students, would continue through January, given the current surge. Happened.

To help families meet this need, the district has been offering PCR testing on several school campuses over the past week. Take-home rapid antigen tests were also distributed, in line with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement in late December that one would be provided to every K-12 student in California.

On Sunday, LAUSD Board of Education President Kelly Gonez said that the necessary testing resulted in the identification of nearly 50,000 positive COVID-19 cases, with students and staff barred from entering school buildings on Tuesday.

Dr. Richina Bissett-McCain, medical director of Baylor College Medicine, told CNN on Sunday that schools were currently a high-risk setting for COVID-19 because the equipment was not adequately employed to reduce its spread.

Bissett-McKean said students need access to testing and high-quality masks and added that HEPA filters could be used to increase ventilation in schools.

“Schools can potentially be very safe – we have the tools to do personalized learning in a safe situation. But when the kids left for winter break, we are seeing about 120 pediatric cases of COVID in a week We were seeing about 170,000 cases per day in the United States,” she said. “Those numbers have increased exponentially. The environment children are coming back is not the same as the one they left off “

He said that there is a need to change the protocol. “The numbers we are seeing are probably a large part of the number of positive cases in the community.”

Surge Hitting Hospital

Hospitals continue to struggle with the number of cases.

In New York state, 40 hospitals are required to suspend non-urgent, non-urgent elective surgeries for at least two weeks, the state health department said in a statement on Saturday.

In late November, Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order outlining a plan to address the COVID-19 winter boom. Part of that order requires that statewide hospital capacity be able to meet regional needs, “while maintaining the long-term resilience of the state’s healthcare infrastructure,” the statement said.

In some hospitals, up to 40% of COVID-19 patients are “coming in not because they are sick with COVID, but because they are carrying something else and the COVID or Omicron variant has been detected,” Dr. Rochelle Valensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sunday on Fox News.

Valensky said the CDC is investigating “everyone who walks in the door” at many hospitals, and the breakdown of patients admitted with Covid-19 — unlike those with Covid-19 — varies markedly.

But Valensky also noted that while Omicron appears to be modest on an individual level, a large number of cases may result in increased mortality.

Pediatric cases of covid-19 are also rising, with more than 800 children hospitalized with covid-19 and nearly 84,000 hospitalized, according to the latest CDC data.

According to Dr. Michael Smit, medical director of CHLA, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the positivity rate of children tested for COVID-19 has increased from 17.5% in December to 45% in January.

The CHLA currently has 41 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, and nearly a quarter of children admitted to the facility with Covid-19 require admission to the pediatric ICU, some requiring intubation. It is, Smit told CNN on Saturday.

Valensky told Fox News on Sunday that children are at a lower risk of Covid-19 hospitalization than other age groups, but “children should not die.”

Valensky said the “vast majority” of children hospitalized with Covid-19 have not been vaccinated, and that the best way to protect children from Covid-19 is to vaccinate those who are eligible.

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