Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

In Montana, the state is facing new heights in hospital admissions this week with 510 active cases displayed on the state’s dashboard website. This darkens the high set in November, which was before vaccines were readily available, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.

The percentages of ICU beds used for Covid-19 patients in Montana along with neighboring Idaho and Wyoming are among the highest in the country, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

And although Covid-19 hotspots like those in the Rockies emerge from the rise driven by the more contagious Delta variant, doctors and officials say that as long as millions of Americans remain unvaccinated, the pandemic will continue to simmer.

“Unfortunately, I am here today to tell you that we have lost the war. That Covid has come to stay,” said Dr. Steven Nemerson, Chief Clinical Officer at Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho. “And the reason it’s here to stay is because we can not vaccinate enough of the public to completely eradicate the disease.”

Idaho has been slammed by the pandemic over the past two months. Coroners and funeral homes reported that storage space for corpses had been used up last month due to the increase in deaths.

The day the first vaccine was released last December was the pandemic equivalent of D-Day, Nemerson said, and Covid-19 will be a recurring problem in the coming years because the United States failed the challenge.

“There are episodes, at least on an annual basis, that we will have to deal with,” Nemerson said Tuesday during a briefing hosted by the state Department of Health and Welfare.

Parents say Walgreens mistakenly injected them and their two children with the Covid-19 vaccine instead of the flu shot

Hospitalizations in Saint Alphonsus have dropped recently, Nemerson said, but it does little more than give exhausted health professionals a chance to get up in the air, especially as workers face hostility from some Covid-19 patients and families.

“None of us are superhuman, and we all have a limit to how much work we are capable of and how much stress and discouragement we are capable of dealing with,” he said, “and it is reinforced by, that we too many people come into our hospitals and question what we do. “

In other parts of the country, some hospitals are still thin. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico and Texas have 15% or less of their ICU capacity available to Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients, according to HHS data.

Idaho and Montana are two of 15 states that still have not fully vaccinated at least half of all residents, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CNN analysis of federal health data last month showed that over the course of a week, the average death rate in covid-19 was more than four times higher in the 10 least vaccinated states compared to the 10 most vaccinated states.
A nurse is treating a Covid-19 patient in Medical Intensive Care-t t St.Luke's Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, on August 31st.

Complies with vaccination rules

After the Biden administration announced last month that new vaccination rules would be imposed on federal workers and large employers, many private companies and government agencies began establishing compliance rules.

At Boeing, where many of its 140,000 employees work in the state, the aviation giant announced that its employees in the United States must show proof of vaccination or “have an approved reasonable accommodation” by December 8th.

New York barbershops and salons are open.  It does not mean business as usual
Smaller employers in some cities are also working to stay consistent. In the 30 days since New York City began enforcing its own vaccine requirement for most indoor activities, authorities have generally found success, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

About 31,000 inspections have been conducted, which includes installing proper signage and checking evidence of vaccination, the mayor said.

About 6,000 warnings were issued, according to NYC Small Businesses Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris, yet de Blasio said only 15 companies after the warnings were still violated and fined.

“To all the small business owners, to all the employees who made this work – thank you,” de Blasio said.

The city’s overall vaccination rate has increased by 9% since the city’s mandate began, he said.

As for public employees in other cities, about 812 employees in Boston city are still not in line with the city’s Covid-19 rules, down from 1,400 reported last week, according to a statement from Mayor Kim Janey’s office. These employees have been placed on unpaid leave.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, has pushed back its deadline for teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 until Friday, according to a district spokesman.

Boosters are rising more than the first doses, data show

While health officials are working to get as many first doses into the arms of Americans as possible, federal health data shows that the frequency of boosters administered exceeds the initial inoculations.

On average, 813,690 doses are administered each day, but initial doses – or new vaccinations – account for only about a quarter of all doses administered, according to CDC data.
FDA to Answer Moderna, J & J Covid-19 Booster Questions, including Mix-and-Match Shots
Booster doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine have been approved for those at higher risk for Covid-19, and advisers from the US Food and Drug Administration must meet Thursday and Friday to review data and consider booster applications from Moderna as well as Johnson & Johnson.
An ongoing conversation between health experts is whether a mix-and-match strategy of using a booster from another vaccine manufacturer may prove to be safe or even more beneficial.

A pre-print of a National Institutes of Health study that has not yet been peer-reviewed or published suggests that mixing boosters in different combinations among the three vaccines provided a robust immune response.

“The most important takeaways are two things. One is that all of these different nine combinations are safe as there are no new or different side effects, so all of these seem to be safe,” says CNN doctor and emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday.

“The other big takeaway is that all of these combinations elicited a pretty strong, robust antibody response. So that actually justifies the mix-and-match approach,” she said.

The Moderna application will be considered on Thursday and Johnson & Johnson is set for Friday. Discussion from members of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, will then turn to mix-and-match boosters.

CNN’s Andy Rose, Laura Ly, Maggie Fox, Jen Christensen, Deidre McPhillips, Rob McLean, Alex Harring and Mallory Simon contributed to this report.

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