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Covid-19 surge could peak later this month, expert says, but the next few weeks are critical



Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, warns that long-term planning is needed to avoid prolonged stress on the health system as hospitals get full, schools have trouble keeping students in class, and access to tests remains difficult.

“We see two things happening: Lots of people who have been vaccinated become infected. We’re fine. We largely avoid getting particularly sick, avoid the hospital; lots of people who are not vaccinated and people at high risk who have not received a booster.” and they really fill the hospitals, and so our hospital systems are under a lot of stress, ”Jha told ABC’s This Week.

“Then we have to think about a long-term strategy for how to deal with this virus and not feel from one surge to the next that we don’t really have a longer-term approach,” said Jha.

According to the US Department of Health, approximately 24% of hospitals report a “critical staff shortage”.

Of the roughly 5,000 hospitals that reported this data to HHS on Saturday, nearly 1,200 – about 1 in 4 – said they are currently facing a critical staff shortage, the largest proportion of the entire pandemic. More than 100 other hospitals said they expected a shortage within the next week.

This staff shortage is escalating as frontline healthcare workers are either infected or quarantined due to exposure to Covid-19 while the demand for treatments explodes: more than 138,000 Covid-19 patients were in as of Sunday, according to HHS US hospitals. That’s not far from the all-time high (around 142,200 in mid-January 2021) and an increase of around 45,000 in early November.

“I expect this increase to peak in the next few weeks. It will peak in different places in America at different times, but once we’re in February I really expect much, much lower case numbers, ”Jha told ABC.

One of the most important tools in the fight against Covid-19 is tests, which are still difficult to find in parts of the United States.

With laboratories struggling to keep up with the increased demand for Covid-19 testing triggered by the rising Omicron variant, at least two healthcare providers have prioritized coronavirus testing for those who have symptoms of the virus.

Last week, several University of Washington health care systems in Washington state began prioritizing testing only for people “who have symptoms of respiratory disease or are known to be exposed to COVID-19,” spokeswoman Susan Gregg told CNN. People with no symptoms are not tested, Gregg said, “due to the high number of Omicron cases processed in our laboratory.”

The University of North Carolina Medical Center at Chapel Hill is facing a similar test frenzy, limiting Covid-19 testing to those showing symptoms of Covid-19, as well as university staff and those who need a test before surgery, UNC Health Director of News Alan M. Wolf.

In Georgia, the Department of Health announced the opening of two Covid-19 mega test sites on Friday as cases continue to rise across the state. Both locations, which are just outside of Atlanta, are only available by appointment. The state health ministry said it was also in talks to identify sites for additional test sites.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said testing is an important key to controlling the spread of Covid-19, including in schools that are struggling to keep children in classrooms in areas with high transmission.

“If you want to get children and teachers back into schools, the way to do that is to take a multi-pronged approach, including flooding our schools with tests. Test kids every week, test teachers every week,” and require teachers and eligible students to be vaccinated he told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.

Reconciling health and education

Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the country, are among those struggling to balance health concerns with educational needs.

Classes in the district were canceled for the fourth consecutive year on Monday after city officials and the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement over the weekend to deal with the city’s Covid-19 spike. Negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and city officials drag on for another week as school is canceled on the fourth day

Citing Covid safety concerns, the union is calling for a period of distance learning while the city wants children in classrooms.

Atlanta schools returned to face-to-face classes on Monday after four days of virtual learning.

Lisa Herring, director of Atlanta Public Schools, told CNN that the mandatory twice-weekly tests for teachers have been expanded to include students whose parents consent to the test.

“We want our children to stay in the bricks and mortar as best we can, but we need this data to effectively support and ensure safety for everyone,” she said.

From around 50,000 students, they would have received around 20,000 parental consent forms for testing, Herring said, and will continue to encourage others.

“We have put in place several mitigation strategies that we know can help us keep children and staff in place if we can identify positivity data. … But to be clear, we also recognize this, in terms of health and wellness, there will be times in schools or classrooms where a switch to virtual services may be necessary, “said Herring.

How 10 parents of school-age children get along with Omicron

Los Angeles’ Unified School District, the second largest school district in the country, requires all students and staff to submit a negative Covid-19 test result before returning to the classroom on Tuesday.

The basic test requirement was introduced at the start of the school year in August, and the district announced a week ago that both the basic test and required weekly tests for staff and students would continue through January, given the current surge.

To help families meet this requirement, the district offered PCR testing on many school campuses over the past week. Rapid antigen tests were also distributed to take away, following Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement in late December that every California K-12 student would receive one.

On Monday, district data showed around 62,000 positive Covid-19 cases among students and staff, which prevented them from entering school buildings on Tuesday.

Dr. Richina Bicette-McCain, medical director at Baylor College Medicine, told CNN on Sunday that schools are currently a higher risk environment for Covid-19 because tools to contain the spread are not being used appropriately.

Bicette-McCain said students need access to tests and quality masks, and that HEPA filters could be used in schools to increase ventilation.

“Schools could potentially be very safe – we have the tools to make personal learning a safe situation. But when kids went on winter vacation, we saw about 120 pediatric Covid cases in a single week, totaling about 170,000 cases a day in the United States, “she said.” Those numbers have grown exponentially. The environment that children return to is not the same environment that they left. “

She said the protocols needed to be changed. “The numbers we’re seeing are probably a rough under-count of the number of positive cases in the community right now.”

Overvoltage in hospitals

Hospitals continue to struggle with the number of cases.

In New York state, 40 hospitals have had to suspend non-essential, non-urgent elective surgeries for at least two weeks due to low patient bed capacity, the state health department said in a statement on Saturday.

In late November, Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order outlining a plan to combat the Covid-19 winter surge. Part of this arrangement requires that nationwide hospital capacities be able to meet regional needs “while maintaining the long-term resilience of the state’s health infrastructure,” the statement said.

People desperate for Covid tests are turning to resellers online

In some hospitals, up to 40% of patients with Covid-19 “do not come because they have Covid, but because they come with something else and Covid or the Omicron variant has been recognized,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Fox News on Sunday.

Walensky said the CDC had examined “everyone who walks in the door” at many hospitals, and the breakdown of patients admitted with Covid-19 – as opposed to Covid-19 – differed depending on the variant.

However, Walensky also noted that while Omicron appears to be milder on an individual level, a large number of cases could lead to an increase in death rates.

Pediatric cases of Covid-19 are also on the rise, as more than 800 children are hospitalized with Covid-19 every day, and according to the latest CDC data, nearly 84,000 have been hospitalized since the pandemic began.

If you've caught Covid-19 over the holidays, here's what you need to know

At Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, the positivity rate for children tested for Covid-19 has increased from 17.5% in December to 45% to date in January, according to CHLA Medical Director Dr. Michael Smit.

CHLA currently has 41 patients in the house who tested positive for Covid-19 and about a quarter of the children admitted to the facility with Covid-19 will need to be admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit, with some requiring intubation, said Smit across from CNN on Saturday.

Children are less likely to be hospitalized compared to other age groups, but “Children shouldn’t die,” Walensky told Fox News on Sunday.

The “vast majority” of children hospitalized with Covid-19 are unvaccinated, and the best way to protect children from Covid-19 is to vaccinate anyone who is eligible, Walensky said.

Contributors to this report were Natasha Chen, Anna-Maja Rappard, Deidre McPhillips, Tina Burnside and Keith Allen of CNN.

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During COVID-19, even psychiatrists need self-care



It’s no secret that the events of the past two years have taken an extraordinary toll on most people’s mental health and well-being. COVID-19 has caused distress and grief for many people and likely contributed to higher reported levels of anxiety and depression compared to pre-pandemic years.

A 2020 American Psychiatric Association public opinion poll found that 62% of American adults were more anxious than the year before. Then another APA poll this year found that a third of Americans rated their mental health as fair or poor. As we head into the new year, it’s likely that the ongoing uncertainty means general anxiety, frustration and fatigue will also persist.

Despite these challenges, the start of a new year is always an opportunity to reflect, to leave the past behind and work toward positive change. However, it’s important to realize that most meaningful changes don’t happen overnight.

So as you ponder your goals for 2022, try not to forget that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Realistic goals may be smaller, but they’re no less valuable and can feel just as good as those big goals when they’re accomplished.

Here are my goals for the new year. I’ll try to focus on the things I can control. Yes, even a psychiatrist can work to improve their own mental health.

And as it turns out, I’m not alone with this plan, the APA reported that one in four Americans is planning a mental health New Year’s resolution, from DIY steps like taking time to meditate or journaling to seeking help a therapist or psychiatrist.

Building resilience and improving mental health and well-being are big tasks that require small but very important steps to get started. Some of the key things I do and advise my patients to do to support their mental health are:

• Take time each day to think. Just a few minutes can make a difference.

• Practice self-care.

• Reach out to others—via email, SMS, phone, or in person. Remember you are not alone.

• Volunteer, donate, be altruistic.

• Spend less time looking at screens.

• Keep a schedule and plan ahead.

• Embark on a creative project or revive a hobby you’ve neglected.

• It’s okay not to be okay. Get professional help if needed.

My primary resolution is to conduct my profession by focusing on the prevention of public health issues that negatively impact mental health. We refer to these as the social determinants of mental health.

With large groups of people, we can avoid the need to treat the aftermath of years of violence, poverty and trauma. I believe it can be easier to address the big issues, like our history of structural racism, misogyny, disregard for indigenous culture, and many other equally important issues, if we can improve our approach to public health individually.

But just like with personal goals, meaningful cultural change doesn’t usually come quickly. We must have patience – both with ourselves and with others as we work to make the future better.

There’s no denying that the last two years have been tough. But taking individual steps to take care of ourselves and our mental health can be the first steps to addressing some of these long-standing difficulties this country faces.

Vivian Pender is President of the American Psychiatric Association. She wrote this column for the Dallas Morning News.

See the full opinion section here. Do you have an opinion on this topic? Send a letter to the editor and you might get published.

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Multiple COVID-19 outbreaks reported at Denver metro schools as omicron spreads



DENVER — The omicron variant continues to spread in Colorado, accounting for 100% of all new cases, according to CDPHE.

It has made its way into schools as counties are now reporting multiple outbreaks, even those with measures.

As demand for safer learning environments grows, a group of students at Denver’s Thomas Jefferson High School plan to drop out next week if Denver Public Schools fail to meet their demands.

“[We have] 545 signatures so far. I think it’s amazing,” said 10th grader Haven Coleman on Saturday.

She is one of five students who helped create a petition on Students are demanding that the district equip schools with N95 or KN95 masks, improve filtration in classrooms, conduct COVID-19 testing twice a week, improve and integrate virtual learning, and add weather-protected outdoor areas.

“We can see that tons of kids are still getting sick, still tons of outbreaks, and we have to change things,” Coleman said.

Though DPS is implementing a vaccination mandate for teachers and staff and requiring masks for everyone regardless of vaccination status, the district reports that at least 58 schools have five or more active cases. These schools meet the CDPHE definition of an outbreak.

Coleman’s school has at least 20 reported cases, but she worries that number could be higher.

“I know that our district has many more mandates than other districts. But that’s not enough,” she said.

In Douglas County, where there is no vaccination or mask requirement for teachers or students, the district is reporting outbreaks in at least five schools. However, some parents say more may be added to this list soon.

“We don’t know the nature of the exposure. We don’t know the true risk to our child because there are so many cases at the school at this point, so it’s upsetting,” said parent Amy Winkler.

She received an email from her child’s middle school, Mountain Ridge, on Friday notifying her that there was also an outbreak and more than 10 people reported having COVID-19.

“My kids wear masks to school, but the kids around them don’t wear masks, so we know they’re at risk of catching COVID from them,” Winkler said.

She and other parents are calling for universal masking regardless of immunization status, which the district deviated from on Dec. 8 when it lifted the mask mandate.

But in a video to the county this week, the health department president said all restrictions are being considered based on severity metrics such as hospitalizations and deaths, rather than case counts.

“Rather than responding to case numbers, we will respond to severity, rather than responding with fear-driven mandates and restrictions,” said Doug Benevento, president of the Douglas County Board of Health.

It’s unclear how sick students get with COVID-19, especially those who are vaccinated, but Coleman says even with safety measures like a vaccination mandate and mask requirements at her school, it’s not worth the risk.

“This really sucks. We don’t want to catch COVID, and we don’t want to risk our lives just to get a decent education,” she said.

DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero says that as omicron spreads, some schools need to go remote. At least 13 had done so this week through Friday, according to district data.

Similarly, the Douglas County School District is warning on its website that if teachers or school staff are affected by COVID-19, some classes, classes or schools may need to be remotely controlled for at least five days. A spokesman confirmed Saturday that no schools or classes will be removed.

In lieu of conditionality, the district has purchased 3,750 air purifiers to be installed in every classroom. It also offers N95 and surgical masks, but doesn’t require them.

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Partisan COVID-19 divide continues as Oklahoma schools, parents make tough decisions



OKLAHOMA (KFOR) — Metro hospitals are on the verge of a slump as staff shortages continue and a surge in patients arrive, but health systems and first responders are not alone in their struggle. The latest surge is also affecting schools and workplaces across Oklahoma as state lawmakers continue to debate how to protect Oklahomaans from COVID-19 weeks ahead of the 2022 legislative session. Republicans are pushing back on federal vaccination mandates and want to translate these views into state law.

“Trying to debate with the federal government about who is in charge is not productive,” said Sen. Julia Kirt, D-OKC.

“It’s so politicized that more than ever I think it needs to be put in the hands of the individual citizen,” said Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman.

“Prior to 2020, vaccines were good,” said Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman.

OSDH: COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases across Oklahoma steadily increasing

Debate rages on at the Oklahoma State Capitol about how best to protect Oklahomaners from COVID-19. A day after the US Supreme Court lifted a federal vaccination mandate for large companies, Oklahoma lawmakers are working to do the same here.

“I’ve seen several bills that certainly just eliminate the mandates,” said Standridge, a pharmacy owner.

The COVID-19 vaccine is administered.

Standridge has authored one of at least seven bills restricting vaccination mandates. His bills allow employees to file claims against companies if they are injured after being asked to get the shot.

“If you force someone to put something, a chemical, into their body, you should be held accountable for the results,” he said.

Data: ICU beds are not available in major Oklahoma City metro hospitals

Senator David Bullard, R-Durant, also filed a bill Friday that would make it “unlawful for any federal or state agency, political subdivision, or corporation contracted with the state to require any Oklahoma resident.” , a COVID-19 vaccine or a variant thereof.”

Senate Democrats say this sounds more like political theater and pushing back on the federal government.

“They’re really taking advantage of the political climate regarding COVID,” Boren said.

“We need to stop the spread of COVID instead of arguing about who has control of what part,” Kirt said.

Meanwhile, school districts across the Sooner State have closed their doors or switched to virtual learning because so many teachers have contracted COVID.

4. COVID-19 vaccine being offered to some immunocompromised Oklahoma residents

Mid-Del Schools said Tuesday its students will be back in class but will be required to wear masks. However, the district said mask opt-outs filed earlier this year will continue to be honored.

Oklahoma City public schools previously announced that students would return to in-person study Tuesday. On Friday, the district said students will study virtually that day instead. However, OKCPS said there’s always a chance they’ll have to stick with online learning if there are still staffing issues next week.

“You know, when the school is closed, we have problems,” said Angelica Johnson, a parent at Norman Public Schools.

Norman Mayor tests positive for COVID-19 while teaching in Costa Rica

Johnson is just one of several parents who are being forced to choose between working or staying at home with their child. Luckily, the Norman Parks and Rec Department has stepped up and given parents at three locations $25 per child relief. The parents felt the care was worth the money.

“It was immeasurable how important it was to have her here to support me as a single parent,” Johnson said.

“We’re all a community that’s working on this right now,” said Mitchell Richardson, the supervisor of the 12th Avenue Parks and Rec Center.

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