Overall hospitalizations are continuing to increase across Alabama as the “pandemic of unvaccinated people continues,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said on Friday. Alabama hospitals have a negative capacity of ICU beds available, he said, and the state is seeing the highest number of Covid-19 cases among children than at any other time during the pandemic.
Louisiana has seen an “astronomical” number of Covid-19 cases during the latest surge, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards, as infections are increasing particularly among younger populations.
“I can tell you that for the last couple of days, 28% of all the new cases that we’re reporting are in children zero to 17,” he said on Friday.
And Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said more people in the state were admitted to the hospital on Wednesday than any other single day. Nearly everyone in the ICU for Covid-19 is unvaccinated and six of the state’s largest hospitals are at 100% capacity for ICU beds, she said.
In Florida, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on Friday asked residents to conserve water as liquid oxygen — typically used to treat the community’s water supply — was being diverted to hospitals locally and statewide to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Here’s the good news: Covid-19 vaccinations also continue to climb.
Over the last week, an average of 466,074 people have initiated vaccination each day, the data shows. About 170 million people — or 51.3% of the total US population — are now fully vaccinated. And nearly 201 million people — 60.5% of the total population — have received at least on dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Pfizer vaccine approval expected soon
Each vaccine currently available in the United States has been authorized for emergency use. Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine would be the first to receive full approval.
Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN’s Jim Acosta Saturday that full authorization may help convince those who are “on the fence about whether or not to get vaccinated.”
“It’s also going to be helpful for some institutions that were hesitant about mandating vaccination, and the fact that it will be fully approved makes them less hesitant to do that,” Frieden said.
“We’re seeing in more settings — whether health care, or schools or workplaces — that mandating vaccination, mandating masks is the way to get back to an economy, to get back to learning in person and to save a lot of lives.”
More colleges are requiring vaccines
All students at state colleges, universities and community colleges throughout the state of Nevada will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 this fall in order to sign up for in-person spring classes, according to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office. The mandate was approved by the state board of health Friday afternoon.
Nevada students must provide proof of vaccination by November 1 in order to be able to enroll in the following semester’s classes. The mandate will be in effect for at least 120 days and provides for medical and religious exemptions. Additionally, students who do not attend classes in person are exempt.
About 96.6% of UVA’s student body is vaccinated, Coy said, while about 1.3% were allowed to claim religious or medical exemptions. Students who were enrolled at the university on Wednesday still have a week to update their vaccination status, at which point they can then re-enroll.
Significant racial disparities found in excess deaths last year, data shows
Meanwhile, researchers continue to examine the effects of the pandemic in 2020, before the widespread distribution of vaccines that helped keep those infected out of hospitals.
Not only did adults ages 65 and older see higher rates of excess deaths last year compared with other age groups, according to new research, but significant racial disparities were found as well.
The findings “have been driven, in part, by factors such as occupational risk, socioeconomic factors, housing conditions, reduced access to health care, and discrimination,” the researchers from the US National Center for Health Statistics, Yale University and Harvard Medical School wrote in their new study.
The researchers analyzed data from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System on the weekly number of deaths from all causes and Covid-19 that occurred between December 29, 2019, and January 2, 2021. The researchers examined population estimates from the US Census Bureau for previous years, from 2015 to 2019, to model how many deaths would normally be expected through the year 2020.
“The resulting weekly expected numbers of deaths were subtracted from the observed numbers of deaths to generate estimates of excess deaths,” the researchers wrote.
In the data, they identified racial disparities across all age groups when it came to rates of excess deaths. Overall, they wrote that “these findings could help guide more tailored public health messaging and mitigation efforts to reduce disparities in mortality associated with the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, by identifying the racial/ethnic groups and age groups with the highest excess mortality rates.”
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Elizabeth Cohen, Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Andy Rose, Deidre McPhillips, Deanna Hackney, Jill Martin, Lauren Mascarenhas and Kay Jones contributed to this report.