Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday
Some U.S. hospitals forced to ration care amid staffing shortages, COVID-19 surge
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Surges in coronavirus cases in several U.S. states this week, along with staffing and equipment shortages, are exacting a mounting toll on hospitals and their workers even as the number of new admissions nationwide ebbs, leading to warnings at some facilities that care would be rationed.
Montana, Alaska, Ohio, Wisconsin and Kentucky experienced the biggest rises in new COVID-19 hospitalizations during the week ending Sept. 10 compared with the previous week, with Montana's new hospitalizations rising by 26 per cent, according to the latest report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.
In Alaska, the influx is so heavy that the state's largest hospital is no longer able to provide life-saving care to every patient who needs it, according to an open letter from the medical executive committee of Providence Alaska Medical Center this week.
"If you or your loved one need specialty care at Providence, such as a cardiologist, trauma surgeon, or a neurosurgeon, we sadly may not have room now," the letter read. "There are no more staffed beds left."
Some hospital workers have become so overwhelmed by the fresh wave of COVID-19 cases — a year and half after the pandemic first reached the United States — that they have left for jobs at retailing and other non-medical fields, Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety the American Hospital Association, told Reuters.
At the same time, distribution and other issues are leaving some hospitals short of oxygen supplies desperately needed to help patients struggling to breathe, Foster said.
On Friday, the hospital association held a webinar for its members on how to conserve oxygen, an effort to address a 200 per cent jump in demand at many hospitals, she said.
"There is a shortage of drivers with the qualifications to transport oxygen, and a shortage of the tanks needed to transport it."
While there are some breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, Foster said most of the hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated.
New hospital admissions are still surging in several mostly rural and Midwestern states, even as the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals daily in the entire United States slipped to about 10,685 on Tuesday after cresting around 13,028 in late August, according to the latest data from the CDC.
What's happening across Canada
- B.C. says it can't take patients from Alberta's overwhelmed ICUs.
- Vaccinations triple after Alberta announces version of vaccine passport.
- Sask.'s new proof of vaccination program 'small inconvenience' but 'worth the price,' business advocate says.
- Getting kids active after COVID-19 will be a 'substantial challenge,' says public health researcher.
- 'Heartbreaking loss': Waterloo region child under 10 with COVID-19 dies.
- Health authority, N.B. working to meet demand for COVID-19 tests amid surge in cases.
- Outbreaks are 'a weird moment' for P.E.I. Here's one expert's advice on how to cope.
- N.S. reports 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
- Mandatory masks for N.L. coming back at midnight tonight.
What's happening around the world
As of Friday afternoon, more than 227.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
The British government announced a major simplification of its rules for international travel on Friday, heeding complaints from travellers and businesses that its regulations aimed at staving off the spread of COVID-19 were cumbersome and ineffective.
Testing requirements will be eased for fully vaccinated arrivals to England from open countries, who will no longer have to take a COVID-19 test before travelling. Travellers will still need a test after landing, but from the end of October an inexpensive lateral flow test will suffice, rather than a more sensitive — but pricier — polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The new rules apply to travellers from Canada.
In the Americas, an influential panel of expert outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted against approving COVID-19 booster shots for all Americans, but endorsing them for those 65 and over and for those at high risk of severe disease.
The decision marked a huge step back from the sweeping plan proposed by the Biden administration a month ago to offer booster shots of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to nearly all Americans eight months after they get their second dose.
In Asia, Cambodia is vaccinating children ages six to 11 so students can safely return to schools that have been closed for months due to the coronavirus. Prime Minister Hun Sen opened the campaign Friday, with his grandchildren and young family members of other senior officials getting their shots.
Cambodia already has been vaccinating older children, and Hun Sen says he ordered health officials to study if children ages three to five can be vaccinated. Nearly 72 per cent of Cambodia's almost 17 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot since vaccinations began in February.
India gave a record 22.6 million vaccinations on Friday, three times the average daily total during the past month. The health minister called the vaccine milestone a birthday gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who turned 71 and was criticized heavily for India's dramatic rise in infections and deaths in April and May.
India's previous vaccination peak of 14.1 million was reached on Aug. 31, with a daily average of seven million doses in the last 30 days.
With files from The Associated Press and CBC News