The rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections across the U.S. has caused a shortage of nurses and other front-line staff in virus hot spots that can no longer keep up with the flood of unvaccinated patients, and which are losing workers to burnout and lucrative out-of-state temporary gigs.
Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana all have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than any other point in the pandemic, and nursing staff is being stretched thin.
In Florida, virus cases have filled so many hospital beds that ambulance services and fire departments are straining to respond to emergencies. Some patients wait inside ambulances for up to an hour before hospitals in St. Petersburg, Fla., can admit them — a process that usually takes about 15 minutes, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said.
One person who suffered a heart attack was bounced from six hospitals before finding an emergency room in New Orleans that could take him in, said Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s chief public health officer.
“It’s a real dire situation,” Kanter said. “There’s just not enough qualified staff in the state right now to care for all these patients.”
The U.S. is averaging more than 116,000 new coronavirus infections a day along with about 50,000 hospitalizations, levels not experienced since the winter surge. Unlike other points in the pandemic, hospitals now have more non-COVID patients for everything from car accidents to surgeries that were postponed during the outbreak.
That has put even more burden on nurses who were already fatigued after dealing with constant death among patients and illnesses in their ranks.
Parts of Europe have so far avoided a similar hospital crisis, despite wide circulation of the delta variant.
The United Kingdom on Monday had more than 5,900 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, but the latest surge has not overwhelmed medical centres. As of Tuesday, the government said 75 per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated.
The same was true in Italy, where the summer infections have not resulted in any spike in hospital admissions, intensive care admissions or deaths. About 3,200 people in the nation of 60 million were hospitalized Tuesday in regular wards or ICUs, according to Health Ministry figures.
What’s happening in Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of Tuesday, more than 203.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the coronavirus tracker maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.4 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s most populous state is reporting a new daily high of 356 coronavirus infections. The New South Wales government also reported four more COVID-19 deaths Tuesday.
More than 80 per cent of the state’s 8.2 million people are in lockdown, including the greater Sydney region. The Sydney lockdown began June 26, and hopes are fading that restrictions will be eased as planned on Aug. 28.
In Bangladesh, the government will begin vaccinating Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, a town on the country’s southeast coast, from Tuesday in a walk-in mass inoculation drive.
About 48,000 Rohingyas, aged 55 and above and registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will be vaccinated between Tuesday and Thursday with the help of the UN agencies, officials said.
In Europe, health officials in Britain say more than three-quarters of adults in the U.K. have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, a milestone that Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as a “huge national achievement.”
Latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care on Tuesday showed that 39.7 million people have now had two doses. More than 47 million, or 89 per cent of the adult population, have received a first dose.
The U.K. has seen its average number of daily confirmed cases fall in recent weeks. A further 25,161 cases were reported on Monday. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Tuesday that the vaccine rollout has created a “wall of defence” that’s “massively reduced” hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.
Germany is ending free COVID-19 testing in an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated. The government will also require people to be either vaccinated, test negative or have a recovery certificate to enter indoor restaurants, take part in religious ceremonies and take part in indoor sport.
Germany had made the tests free for all in March to help make a gradual return to normal life possible after months of lockdown. Although around 55 per cent of Germans are fully vaccinated, the pace of inoculations has slowed.
In the Middle East, Iraqi health authorities have organized a COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the holy city of Kerbala ahead of the upcoming annual religious ritual of Ashura.
The city’s health department launched the campaign that targeted owners of restaurants and its employees who interact with visitors as crowds of Muslim Shias from different countries gather.
In Africa, Nigeria has announced it’s postponing the rollout of its second batch of COVID-19 vaccine due to “unforeseen circumstances,” a setback for Africa’s most populous nation as it faces a major surge in confirmed cases. The rollout was scheduled for Tuesday. Less than two per cent of the country’s 200 million citizens have been vaccinated.
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