More COVID-19 Snaps, Studies Offer Hope to U.S. Schools


Shahir Sanchez, 5, grimaces as Dr Neal Schwartz takes a nasal swab sample for the COVID-19 test Thursday in Tustin, California. Jae C. Hong / Associated press

WASHINGTON – Authorities offered new hope for the safety of U.S. schoolchildren threatened by COVID-19 on Friday as Gulf Coast hospitals already filled with unvaccinated patients braced for the nightmarish scenario of a major hurricane sparking a wave of fractures, cuts and heart attacks without enough staff to treat the injured.

The Biden administration said half of American teens aged 12 to 17 have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccine, and the rate of inoculation among adolescents is increasing faster than any other age group.

“We have now taken an important step forward,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters at a briefing. “This is critical progress as millions of children return to school.”

Meanwhile, new California studies have both provided more evidence that schools can safely open if they do the right things and highlighted the danger of not following proper precautions.

A study of COVID-19 cases from the peak winter pandemic in Los Angeles County found that case rates in children and adolescents were about 3.5 times lower than in the general community when schools were tracking Federal guidelines on mask wear, physical distancing, testing and other virus measures, officials said.

Another study from Marin County, north of San Francisco, found that a single unvaccinated teacher who returned to school two days after showing symptoms and reading in his classroom without wearing a mask resulted in 26 other infections in May, before the highly contagious delta variant. broke loose.

“Most of the places we see outbreaks and epidemics are in places that do not implement our current guidelines,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who discussed the studies during a briefing.

More than 3,100 active cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Arkansas public schools among students and employees, according to recently released figures, and most young people are enrolled in districts that require masks. The warrants emerged after a judge temporarily blocked a state law that banned mask warrants in Arkansas, which ranks fifth nationally for new cases of the virus per capita, University researchers say. Johns Hopkins.

On the northern Gulf Coast, where Ida was set to become a dangerous hurricane before it struck Sunday, workers at Singing River Gulfport expect to have to raise flood gates to prevent rising water from the hospital which is full of COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of them are unvaccinated, facilities manager Randall Cobb said.

To complicate matters, he said, the hospital is understaffed due to the pandemic and also expects to receive a flood of patients with illnesses that typically follow any hurricane: fractures, heart attacks, breathing problems. and lacerations.

“It’s going to be bad. It’s gonna be really bad, ”Cobb said.

Located a few miles from the coast, the hospital has enough fuel, food and other supplies to operate on its own for at least 96 hours, he said, and it will help anyone with an illness. serious and potentially fatal. But officials were trying to make it known that people with less severe medical conditions should go to special needs storm shelters or contact emergency management.

“It’s very stressful because it’s too late if we haven’t thought of everything. Patients rely on not only medical care but also facilities to be available, ”said Cobb.

About 1,100 people die daily from COVID-19 in the United States, the highest number since mid-March, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. About 85,000 people were hospitalized with the disease across the country earlier this week, according to CDC data, the highest total since the post-holiday outbreak in early February.

The flare is largely fueled by the highly contagious delta variant in unvaccinated people. In areas with particularly low vaccination rates, doctors have pleaded with their communities to get vaccinated to spare overcrowded hospitals. In places like Alabama, federal teams have been put in place to help exhausted workers and fill staff shortages caused by infections and exposure to COVID-19.

In Idaho, one of the least vaccinated states, intensive care units are running out of space and a 330-bed hospital, Kootenai Health, has converted classrooms into patient care space.

The larger classroom has become a treatment room for up to 21 coronavirus patients who do not need the type of specialized monitoring provided by intensive care units. Other classrooms have been turned into treatment areas where COVID-19 hospital patients can receive monoclonal antibody therapy in hopes of preventing them from needing a hospital bed.

Idaho also appeals to people with health care skills or a simple willingness to help enroll in the state’s Medical Reserve Corps. Retired healthcare workers can get temporary license renewals, and others can help with tasks like contact tracing and data entry.

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