US states that have opened up and are crushed by new waves of covid are warning Australia
Fed up with covid restrictions and impatient to return to normal life, this American state has reopened. Today, hospitals are collapsing under the pressure.
A great US state has become a tragic case study of what can happen when authorities let Covid-19 tear itself apart with low vaccination rates and little or no infection control measures.
Florida was one of the first jurisdictions in the United States to lift initial restrictions to fight the virus, as cases continued to rise, in a bid to return to normal life.
The authorities then went further, launching a war on the restrictions themselves, including banning warrants for face masks in certain settings, such as schools.
“We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state, and I can tell you Florida – we’re a free state,” Governor Ron DeSantis said recently.
The rhetoric surrounding the rollout of covid vaccines has sometimes not been favorable or undermining, and Florida has been criticized for its lax adoption of jabs.
Now, as America struggles under the weight of a new wave of cases, thanks to the highly infectious Delta strain, Florida is in a particularly difficult position.
The Washington Post described the state as “the epicenter of a summer peak of coronavirus” with an average of nearly 30,000 new cases daily.
It is one of three US states to have reached three million cases in total. If Florida were a country, it would now rank 16th for the most infections in the world.
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The number of deaths increased by 190% to an average of 170 per day. Some 41,000 people in Florida have died since the start of the pandemic.
One of them was Kristen McMullen, a 30-year-old woman who gave birth by emergency cesarean on July 27 while battling an acute infection with covid.
She cradled her newborn baby Summer for a few moments before being rushed back to an intensive care unit, where she died 10 days later.
Statewide, a flood of critically ill and dying Floridians has put the health care system on the brink of collapse.
It serves as a warning signal to those suffering from covid restriction fatigue, such as Australians who have recently taken to the streets to protest the blockades.
Most hospitals are now at “a critical point”
The latest estimates indicate that 17,000 are hospitalized with Covid-19 in Florida, half of them in intensive care.
All over Florida, hospitals are inundated with people infected with Covid-19, including young and otherwise healthy patients. As a result, capacity has been hit hard and there is a critical shortage of beds, especially in intensive care, and a lack of available staff.
Palm Beach Country is one of the most populous areas in the state and 20% of its residents are now infected with Covid-19. He declared a state of emergency last week as hospital admissions skyrocket and shocked frontline healthcare workers struggle to cope.
“We are really at a very critical point,” said Dr Alina Alonso, who heads the country’s health response, said The Washington Post.
This weekend, federal authorities deployed hundreds of ventilators to hospitals across Florida.
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Jennifer Caputo-Seidler is a doctor at Tampa General Hospital and said 12 floors have been converted into makeshift makeshift rooms, in dire need of more space.
“The truth is, we are caring for three times as many patients as we had last summer,” wrote Dr Caputo-Seidler in a series of tweets. “We are stretched to the breaking point.”
In Orlando, authorities are asking residents to reduce their water consumption so that it can be saved for liquid oxygen supply.
Liquid oxygen is used to treat the drinking water supply, but the high demand from hospitals for the treatment of respiratory illnesses puts pressure on stocks.
“This means that there could be impacts on the quality of our water if we don’t immediately reduce the amount of water we need to treat knowing that we might be facing problems with this limited supply,” said the Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
“This is another unfortunate impact of the pandemic which continues to increase in our community. “
Dr Caputo-Seidler said she and her colleagues make dozens of calls a day to relatives of patients who “we don’t think … are going to survive this”.
“We put several patients on ventilators every day. We perform CPR on patients younger than me in a desperate attempt to save their lives.
Surprisingly, Dr Caputo-Seidler revealed that “almost all of our patients are not vaccinated”.
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A wave of horror of new cases of covid
After a brief period when it seemed like the United States had finally turned the tide of its war on the coronavirus, a deadly new wave once again overwhelms the country thanks to the Delta strain.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have warned that daily cases could soon reach 200,000 again, with unvaccinated Americans being described as “sitting ducks.”
At present, the number of new daily cases averages around 140,000.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t see 200,000 cases a day over the next two weeks and it’s heartbreaking considering we never thought we would be back in this space,” Fox News told Fox News. Dr Francis Collins, Director of NIH.
“It’s going up really steeply with no sign of peaking.”
The original coronavirus strain had an R-value – or infection rate – of between two and three, but while the R-value of the Delta variant is between five and six.
This means that a person infected with Delta is likely to pass it on to five or six other people, or at least twice as many people as before.
Some believe that the Delta strain has an even higher infection rate than that.
Infectious disease experts say a covid vaccine is the best defense against infection and when breakthrough cases occur – that is, someone still contracts the virus despite the inoculation – they significantly prevent serious illness and death.
An estimated 90 million Americans remain unvaccinated and largely represent those who now flood hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units.
States where vaccination rates remain low, such as Florida and Texas, have particularly explosive infection rates.
Florida’s vaccination rate is much lower than that of other large states and this is now reflected in new cases of Covid-19, which have increased 88% in the past two weeks.
In Texas, where only 46% of people are vaccinated, its healthcare system has also been stretched to the breaking point.
Last week, it emerged that some 600 people were waiting for general beds at hospitals in the greater Houston area, while nearly 90 were waiting for an intensive care bed.
The city’s hospitals are also severely understaffed, authorities said.
A warning about covid complacency
The majority of Floridians do not support the tough measures to tackle the virus, polls have shown, and the state’s economy relies heavily on tourism, so the tone at the top is not too surprising.
It’s also fair to say that the Republican leader’s setback was political in nature, with pundits arguing that his presidential aspirations and close ties to Donald Trump shaped much of his response to the covid crisis.
Throughout the pandemic, Florida has been eager to turn the tide and continue with a quick return to normal life before covid.
While much of the country has invested in vaccination centers and incentives to encourage residents to get vaccinated, the Gulf state has focused on reducing measures and even banning them.
Governor DeSantis has banned the compulsory wearing of masks, as in schools. He has sworn heavy bans on school districts who defied him and even threatened to withhold teachers’ salaries.
Doctors say the level of complacency has contributed to both a low willingness to adopt virus safety measures and a feeling of reluctance to get vaccinated.