“It’s clinically and psychologically impossible to do this year,” Scotty Silva, director of respiratory care at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, told CNN. “Even the most powerful respiratory therapists I’ve (have) broken sometimes.”
In Omaha, Nebraska, staff are “very worried about what will happen after the holidays” and are urging people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from serious illness, Haleigh Seizys, nurse at the Covid-19 ICU at Nebraska Medical Center.
“Day to day things are difficult,” Seizys told CNN’s Ana Cabrera. “I have a patient who is not doing well. It takes a lot of time and effort on the part of a number of different people to try to help these patients improve.
“I am really exhausted,” she said, although she remains motivated to “help whoever I can”.
More than 70,000 Americans were hospitalized Thursday with the Covid-19, according to
Data from the Ministry of Health and Social Services, against about 45,000 in early November.
The United States has recorded an average of 1,303 Covid-19 deaths per day over the past week, 14% more than a month earlier, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Early evidence shows that increasing the levels of antibodies developed from new vaccinations or booster doses may help protect people against a potentially more transmissible Omicron. Researchers are still working to find out if there is a lower risk of serious illness with Omicron than with Delta or earlier variants.
Previous hopes have been dashed
Clinical nurse manager Dominick Armijo was hopeful when the vaccines were approved, he said. He was the first person in New Mexico to be shot.
“We thought the cases decreased with the vaccination,” he told CNN. “Then all of a sudden it was like, ‘Wham-bam, here we go again.'”
He could not have explained the number of people who refused the vaccine and then filled his intensive care unit, he said – people like Angela Byers.
“I was an anti-vaxxer but not anymore,” she told CNN. “It’s hard, it’s really hard. It upset me.
“I wish I had been vaccinated earlier. I wouldn’t be here. It’s regret.”
Those who oppose mask mandates, including elected leaders, should see what healthcare workers face on a daily basis, said Seizys, whose colleagues are trying to “rally with each other” in the face of increased hospitalizations.
“I sincerely wish they could come and follow me for just an hour so they can see how their feet hurt and see how many people are trying to hold back their tears day by day, and they can see the trauma. that these patients are going through., “she said. “These people are dying very traumatic deaths, and it’s so hard to watch.”
Since the Delta and Omicron variants circulate widely in the United States, it’s hard to say which one is making people sicker. More research is needed on the characteristics of hospitalizations, including length of stay, said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who is now a member of the Pfizer board of directors.
“We need to watch this very closely,” he told CNBC on Wednesday, noting that it is not clear whether the rise is due to Delta or whether “it is an early indicator of the increase in Omicron infections ending in hospital “.
Omicron’s first U.S. death was reported in Texas, as an unvaccinated man in his 50s who previously succumbed to Covid-19 from a new infection. And cases in many parts of the country continue to rise as the variant has been detected in all 50 states.
New York state eclipsed its previous daily record for cases five times in less than a week, officials reported Wednesday. As the hospitalization rate “increases,” the state’s rate is still only two-thirds of what it was in December of last year, Governor Kathy Hochul noted.
“We are not panicking,” she said. “We have the resources we need.
New vaccine and booster mandates
On the heels of Washington, DC, hitting a new high number of cases, proof of vaccination will be required in the city for people over the age of 12 to enter restaurants, gyms and other gathering places, the mayor said. Muriel Bowser.
“Vaccines work, and they work well to keep people out of the hospital and to prevent people from dying from Covid-19. So we don’t need those type of shutdowns, but we need more people to get vaccinated and boosted, ”Bowser said Wednesday at a press conference.
Grocery stores, retail stores and museums would not be required to verify proof of vaccines, and religious institutions are exempt, officials said. Eligible students in Washington, DC schools are also required to get vaccinated by March 1.
In the meantime, some universities are adjusting spring semesters by temporarily switching to online learning, and others are imposing booster doses for vaccinated students and staff. Duke University this week joined the list of schools – including Syracuse, Notre Dame, State of Michigan, Hofstra and New York University – that recently announced the requirement for a booster vaccine.
“These measures will help limit a potential outbreak on our campus and in our community and protect those most vulnerable to this virus,” said a statement from Duke.
In California, health workers – already under immunization mandate – will have to be recalled, and students will be tested before returning to school in January, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday.
The Covid-19 testing crisis is coming
With the increase in the number of Omicron cases – and the approach of Christmas and New Years – the demand for Covid-19 tests far exceeds the current supply and has resulted in long queues nationwide, as well. that there is a risk that positive cases will not be detected.
The Biden administration plans to deliver 500 million new tests by next month, but it will take time to fulfill orders and details are still being worked out, a senior administration official told CNN. .
“To be clear, we are not sending a test to every household in the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing. “We provide an opportunity, another opportunity, or an ability for people to… go to a website and request a test if their preference is to do it at home. Not everyone will. But we want people who want it. to do that, who want to get tested, who want to request a test that way to have that ability to do it. “
CVS Health and Walgreens – the two largest drug store chains in the United States – have announced that they are limiting the number of home Covid-19 kits customers can buy due to high demand.
More treatments are allowed
The United States Food and Drug Administration on Thursday cleared Merck’s antiviral pill, molnupiravir, “for the treatment of mild to moderate coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in adults … at high risk of progression to COVID -19 severe, including hospitalization or death, and for whom the alternative COVID-19 treatment options authorized by the FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate. “
The agency authorized the first pill to treat Covid-19 on Wednesday. Pfizer’s Paxlovid “should be initiated as soon as possible after diagnosis of Covid-19 and within five days of symptom onset,” according to an FDA statement. Combining two antiviral drugs, Paxlovid should be prescribed by a doctor and given as three tablets twice a day for five days.
The White House has purchased 10 million courses of antiviral treatment from Pfizer, with 265,000 available in January and “with monthly pill totals increasing throughout the year and the 10 million courses of treatment delivered by end of summer, “according to Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients.
Paxlovid is not intended for pre- or post-exposure prevention to Covid-19 and “is not a substitute for vaccination in people for whom the Covid-19 vaccination and a booster dose are recommended,” said the FDA.
CNN’s Sara Sidner, Stephanie Becker, Deidre McPhillips, Jamie Gumbrecht, Amanda Sealy, Aya Elamroussi, DJ Judd, Laura Ly, Sam Feist, Kristina Sgueglia, Stella Chan, Sarah Fortinsky, Adrienne Winston and Daniel Maraccini contributed to this report.