Hospitals in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Ida were forced to evacuate dozens of patients after the storm ripped off pieces of roofs, caused water leaks and partially flooded some areas.
Some relied on emergency generators for electricity as millions of people across the state lost power after the storm hit the coast as a Category 4 hurricane. The state were already inundated with COVID-19 patients due to the delta variant and low vaccination rates.
The additional obstacles, along with wreckage from the storm and new patients, caused hospitals to transfer patients to other medical centers in the state, while others continued to operate on a generator.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said he expected the death toll to rise “dramatically”.
Christina Stephens, spokesperson for Edwards, said the state will work to move people to hotels quickly so they can keep their distance from each other. Even before Ida struck, Louisiana was battling a fourth wave of coronavirus triggered by the highly contagious delta variant and relatively low vaccination rates across the state.
“It’s a COVID nightmare,” she said. “We predict that we might see spikes in COVID related to this. “
As of Monday evening, there were more than 2,600 COVID-19 patients hospitalized and nearly 500 others on ventilators, who require electricity to operate. Those who are not vaccinated account for 91% of hospitalizations, according to the state health department.
The storm and surge of cases came as the United States marked 39 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Also in the news:
►Employees in the city of Portland, Oregon must be fully immunized against the coronavirus – or obtain medical or religious exemption – by mid-October, or they will be laid off.
►An Illinois judge on Monday overturned a decision to ban a divorced mother from seeing her 11-year-old son because she is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
►The mayor of Honolulu has said the city will soon require patrons of restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and other establishments to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test.
►Australia says it has reached an agreement with Singapore to acquire 500,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine next week in exchange for delivering the same number of vaccines to Singapore in December.
►The four largest hospitals in Oklahoma City said Monday they had no critical care bed space available or no space for COVID-19 patients.
Today’s figures: The United States has recorded more than 39 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 638,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 217 million cases and 4.5 million deaths. More than 173.8 million Americans – 52.4% of the population – have been fully immunized, according to the CDC.
📘 What we are reading: Parents of students with disabilities are suing school mask ban because their children are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. Read more here.
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CDC Panel Supports Full License of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine remains extremely safe and deserves use by a federal advisory committee agreed on Monday, recommending its use in people over 16 years of age.
The committee, known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), reviewed data submitted as part of the companies’ request for a full license for the vaccine.
The vaccine had been cleared for emergency use; on August 23, the Food and Drug Administration issued it a biologics license application – the technical term for full approval – in people 16 years of age and older. Its use in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age will continue to receive emergency clearance until more data accumulates.
Emergency use was granted to accelerate vaccine availability in times of crisis, based on two months of data. Full approval is based on six months.
On Monday, ACIP publicly reviewed for the first time the data that was part of the application process. The results, they said, were clear.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine carries a risk of two potentially dangerous side effects: swelling of the heart, called myocarditis, and allergic reactions. But these effects are mostly manageable, the data shows, with allergic reactions widely detected during the 30-minute wait period after vaccination and the vast majority of people with myocarditis leaving the hospital within a day or two. Read more here.
– Karen Weintraub
Education Department investigates states banning school mask warrants
As thousands more schools return to full-time in-person education, President Joe Biden’s administration investigates five states that ban districts from imposing masks on charges such policies violate civil rights children with disabilities and the underlying health conditions.
State superintendents in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah received letters Monday explaining how banning masking inside schools prevents districts from putting implementing the necessary health and safety measures to protect students, the education ministry said in a press release.
Banning mask warrants may prevent schools “from meeting their legal obligations not to discriminate on the basis of disability and to provide equal educational opportunity for students with disabilities who are at increased risk of illness serious due to COVID-19, “the letters said, according to the department.