By ED WHITE – Associated Press
The United States faces its second Thanksgiving of the pandemic in better shape than the first time, thanks to the vaccine, although some areas are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 cases that could worsen as families roam the country for impossible gatherings. one year ago.
Nearly 200 million Americans are fully immunized. That leaves tens of millions of people who have yet to be shot in the arm, some of them in defiance. Hospitals in the Upper Midwest cold, particularly in Michigan and Minnesota, are filled with COVID-19 patients who are mostly unvaccinated.
Michigan hospitals reported about 3,800 coronavirus patients at the start of the week, 20% of them in intensive care units, numbers approaching the darkest days of the start of the pandemic in 2020. The state had a seven-day new case rate of 616 per 100,000 people on Monday, the highest in the country.
In the West, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Montana also ranked among the best. Some communities in Colorado, including Denver, are turning to indoor mask orders to reduce risk, a policy that has also been adopted in the Buffalo area, New York, and Santa Cruz County, California.
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Michigan’s statistics are “horrible,” said Dr. Matthew Trunsky, respiratory specialist at Beaumont Health in suburban Detroit.
âWe got cold and moved inside and have huge pockets of unvaccinated people,â he said. don’t expect to lose teachers.
On a recent visit to the office, he encouraged a patient who uses oxygen to get vaccinated. The patient refused and is now in the hospital with COVID-19, desperately relying on even more oxygen, Trunsky said.
He said he continues to meet patients and their family members espousing vaccine conspiracy theories.
âWe have seen several people in their 40s die in the past month – 100% unvaccinated,â Trunsky said. âIt’s so sad to see a woman die with teenage boys. Especially with this age group, it’s almost 100% preventable.
In Detroit, where less than 40% of eligible residents have been fully immunized, Mayor Mike Duggan said hospitalizations had doubled since early November.
“We have far too many people in this country who we have lost because they believed some nonsense on the internet and decided not to get the vaccine,” said Duggan, a former hospital executive.
Despite the hot spots, the outlook for the United States overall is significantly better than it was at Thanksgiving 2020.
Without the vaccine, which became available in mid-December 2020 a year ago, the United States averaged 169,000 cases and 1,645 deaths per day, and about 81,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. The United States now has an average of 95,000 cases, 1,115 deaths and 40,000 in hospital.
Airports are blocked. More than 2.2 million people passed through security checkpoints on Friday, the busiest day since the pandemic interrupted travel in early 2020. In recent days, the number was twice as high as at Thanksgiving a year ago.
Sarene Brown and three children, all vaccinated, were flying to Atlanta from Newark, New Jersey, to see their families. People close to them have died from COVID-19.
âI’m grateful to be here, and I’m not in Heaven, and I’m grateful for my family and that God has helped me survive,â said Neive Brown, 7, who received her first dose.
More than 500,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since last Thanksgiving, for a total death toll of more than 770,000.
“We encourage people who gather to do so safely after being fully immunized, as we’ve been saying for months now,” said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I think it’s very different because we actually have the tools to prevent the vast majority of cases.”
Dr Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said his optimism was tempered by the ability of the delta variant to pass from person to person, especially among the millions of people who are unvaccinated or who need to receive a reminder.
âThis equates to very high vulnerability,â Topol said.
Denver’s public hospital, Denver Health, is sending people elsewhere due to a lack of beds. Staff were exhausted from treating COVID-19 patients and others who had deferred other medical needs, said chief executive Robin Wittenstein.
âOur system is on the verge of collapse,â she said.
Arizona has reported at least 2,551 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, well below last winter’s peak but still a cause for concern. Officials said beds were limited.
AP reporters Colleen Slevin in Denver, Corey Williams in Detroit, Ted Shaffrey in Newark, New Jersey, and AP medical writer Carla K. Johnson contributed to this story.
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