Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | Kaiser Health News

Covid Infections: ‘Cautious’ Analysis Shows A Much Quieter Winter, Spring

The most likely scenario, NPR reported, is that kids get the vaccine and overall deaths in the U.S. will fall to fewer than 100 a day by March. For now, though, deaths are averaging more than 1,900 a day.

Modelers Project A Calming Of The Pandemic In The U.S. This Winter

Americans may be able to breathe a tentative sigh of relief soon, according to researchers studying the trajectory of the pandemic. The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, and cases and deaths will likely decline steadily now through the spring without a significant winter surge, according to a new analysis shared with NPR by a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For its latest update, which it will release Wednesday, the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub combined nine different mathematical models from different research groups to get an outlook for the pandemic for the next six months. (Stein and Wroth, 9/22)

Meanwhile, delta has become the dominant variant worldwide —

The Washington Post:
Delta Is The Dominant Coronavirus Variant Worldwide, WHO Says

The delta variant has “by far” become the world’s dominant coronavirus strain, appearing in some 185 countries as global cases near 230 million and deaths surpass 4.7 million since the start of the pandemic. That’s according to a top World Health Organization scientist, Maria Van Kerkhove, who said Tuesday that “less than 1 percent of the sequences that are available right now are alpha, beta and gamma,” referring to the three other variants the organization considers “of concern.” (Ang and Timsi, 9/22)

‘Soul-Crushing’: US COVID-19 Deaths Are Topping 1,900 A Day

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans. The increasingly lethal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed the return to offices and demoralized health care workers. “It is devastating,” said Dr. Dena Hubbard, a pediatrician in the Kansas City, Missouri, area who has cared for babies delivered prematurely by cesarean section in a last-ditch effort to save their mothers, some of whom died. For health workers, the deaths, combined with misinformation and disbelief about the virus, have been “heart-wrenching, soul-crushing.” (Hollingsworth, 9/21)

Pediatric COVID-19 Case Surge Continues Across US 

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its latest numbers on how many American children are being infected with COVID-19 and said nearly 226,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported from Sep 9 to 16, the third highest number of child cases in a week since the pandemic began. Children represented 25.7% of the weekly reported cases. (Soucheray, 9/21)

In other news about the spread of the coronavirus —

Idaho’s COVID Outlook Is Dire As Cases Continue To Climb

Health care workers are exhausted and angry. Some of Idaho’s coronavirus vaccines are expiring because they have sat unused for so long. And coronavirus case numbers and deaths continue to climb, putting the state among the worst in the nation for the rate of new COVID-19 diagnoses. Idaho’s public health leaders painted a grim picture — again — during a weekly briefing on the pandemic Tuesday. (Boone, 9/21)

Anchorage Daily News:
Alaska’s COVID-19 Case Rate Is Now The Highest In The Nation As State Reports 6 Deaths

With many hospitals still in crisis, Alaska is now recording the highest case rate per capita of any U.S. state after surpassing its winter-level peak for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. According to a New York Times tracker updated Tuesday, Alaska’s average rate of daily new infections over the last week is more than double the national average — and higher than any state. The state on Tuesday reported 861 cases after recording more than 2,000 new cases in three days over the weekend. While case counts and case rates don’t account for how many of the people who test positive for COVID-19 are symptomatic or severely ill, rising case counts are often followed weeks later by a similar uptick in hospitalizations and deaths. (Berman, 9/21)

Gianforte Sends National Guard To Aid In Virus Response

National Guard soldiers will assist Montana hospitals with their COVID-19 response as the state struggles with a surge in infections, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Tuesday. A total of 70 soldiers will assist six different hospitals in Helena, Billings, Butte, Missoula and Bozeman. They will begin helping the hospitals either this weekend or next weekend, according to an announcement from the governor’s office. The Guardsmen will support staffing with non-medical intensive care assistance, environmental services, patient data entry and virus testing. (9/21)

At An Overrun ICU, ‘The Problem Is We Are Running Out Of Hallways’ 

Nurses fill the hospital room to turn a patient from his stomach to his back. The ventilator forcing air into him is most effective when he’s on his stomach, so he is in that position most hours of the day, sedated and paralyzed by drugs. Lying on his stomach all those hours has produced sores on his face, and one nurse dabs at the wounds. The dark lesions are insignificant given his current state, but she continues just the same, gently, soothingly, appearing to whisper to him as she works. (Ehli, 9/22)

Bangor Daily News:
Maine Hospitals ‘In For A Bumpy Ride’ With Record COVID-19 Patients Stretching Capacity

Patients have been diverted from Maine hospitals or treated in hallways over the past few weeks as record COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to stress the health care system. A record number of 225 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday, eclipsing a record set the day before. On Monday, 90 percent of those hospitalized were unvaccinated, continuing a trend with relatively few breakthrough cases occurring in the state. The state had 48 critical care beds available with 82 people in those units, which are increasingly becoming defined by the number of people available to staff them as a workforce shortage stretches further. (Andrews, 9/22)

In updates from Florida —

WUSF Public Media:
Florida COVID Hospitalizations Tick Upward For First Time In A Month 

Figures released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show 9,187 Floridians are hospitalized with COVID-19 — 211 more than Sunday. A month ago, nearly twice as many people were hospitalized. On Aug. 19, there were 17,198 COVID patients statewide, and numbers have been falling steadily since then. In addition, 2,359 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care Monday, up 51 from a day earlier. That’s 37.5% of the state’s staffed ICU beds. (Sheridan, 9/21)

Health News Florida:
10,000+ TSA Workers Have Gotten COVID. How Many Worked At Florida Airports?

More than 10,000 Transportation Security Administration workers across the country have tested positive for the COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Miami International Airport ranks No. 1, with more than 500 cases, according to federal statistucs. Two other Florida airports, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Orlando, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, with more than 360 cases each.The only other Florida airport with more than 100 cases is Tampa International, with 115. (9/21)

Nanobody Immune Therapy From Llamas Shows Anti-Covid Promise

Nanobodies are similar to antibodies, but are smaller, simpler and produced naturally in llamas and camels when they suffer infections. A llama called Fifi is the source of a promising new covid therapy. Meanwhile, a drug already approved to treat gout may also be useful against covid.

BBC News:
Covid: Immune Therapy From Llamas Shows Promise 

A Covid therapy derived from a llama named Fifi has shown “significant potential” in early trials. It is a treatment made of “nanobodies”, small, simpler versions of antibodies, which llamas and camels produce naturally in response to infection. Once the therapy has been tested in humans, scientists say, it could be given as a simple nasal spray – to treat and even prevent early infection. Prof James Naismith described nanobodies as “fantastically exciting”. (Gill, 9/22)

Fox News:
FDA-Approved Gout Drug Could Show Promise In Fighting COVID-19

A gout drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could reportedly show promise in fighting the coronavirus. According to a recent study from the University of Georgia (UGA) published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, probenecid has potent antiviral properties that make the oral medication a prime candidate to combat not only SARS-CoV-2 infection but other common and deadly respiratory viruses. The school noted that probenecid is primarily used to treat gout and has been on the market for more than 40 years, with minimal side effects to patients. (Musto, 9/21)

CBS News:
A Look At COVID-19 Treatments: Which Ones Work Best? 

Hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, ivermectin and monoclonal antibodies are some of the most-talked about drugs when it comes to COVID-19. CBS Dallas spoke with Dr. Robert Gottlieb, of the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, to learn more about each. “There are many therapies that work on paper, or even in the laboratory, that don’t work when you bring them to a human” Dr. Gottlieb told us. “We have to remember that we’re not trying to treat a virus in a test tube, we’re trying to treat a virus in a human being.” (Katz, 9/21)

In news from California and Hawaii —

Los Angeles Times:
Monoclonal Antibody COVID Treatment Hard To Get In California 

Health officials in California are warning of shortages and distribution problems for a medical treatment that can keep COVID-19 patients from falling critically ill. Monoclonal antibodies have been developed as a treatment for COVID-19. They are thought to be a way to counteract the coronavirus before it can begin destroying the body’s organs, said Dr. Rais Vohra, the interim Fresno County health officer. The antibodies can be used to treat mild or moderate COVID-19 in patients who are not hospitalized. (Lin II and Money, 9/21)

Hawaii COVID-19 Antibody Treatments Capped Amid Shortage

Hawaii health care providers are receiving only half the number of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 that they requested amid a shortage of the drugs. The federal government has capped Hawaii’s weekly allocation at 680 treatments, Brooks Baehr, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “There is no question that we would have loved to get more,” Baehr said. (9/21)

Experts Eye More Travel Testing To Contain COVID In Hawaii

Hawaii officials are facing pressure to increase COVID-19 testing for travelers as the islands deal with a record surge of new infections, hospitalization and deaths. The calls come as federal guidelines change to require negative virus tests from both vaccinated and unvaccinated people coming to the U.S. Despite evidence that more COVID-19 testing would help reduce the spread of disease, especially in an isolated destination like Hawaii, state leaders have resisted the implementation of a two-test policy for arriving travelers. (Jones, 9/21)

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