US COVID: Cases, hospitalizations increase in Vermont, New Mexico, other hotspots, provoking concerns about winter coronavirus increase

The contagious delta variant is increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Mountain West and fueling disruptive outbreaks in the North, a critical sign of what could happen this winter in the United States.

While trends are improving in Florida, Texas and other Southern states that have suffered the worst of the summer growth, it is clear that delta is not over with the United States. COVID-19 moves north and west for the winter as people enter an indoor area, close their windows and breathe stagnant air.

“We will see a lot of outbreaks in unvaccinated people that will result in a serious illness, and it will be tragic,” said Dr. Donald Milton of the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

In recent days, Vermont college has suspended social gatherings after an increase in cases related to Halloween celebrations. Boston officials closed an elementary school to control an outbreak. Hospitals in New Mexico and Colorado are overwhelmed.

In Michigan, the three-district Detroit subway area is once again becoming a hot spot for distributions, with one hospital system reporting nearly 400 patients with COVID-19. Mask wear in Michigan has declined to about 25% of people, according to a combination of surveys tracked by an influential modeling group at the University of Washington.

“Concern about COVID has generally almost disappeared, which is unfortunate,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director at health departments in 20 counties of central and northern Michigan. “I feel weird going into a shop in disguise. I’m a minority. It’s very different. It’s just a really unusual atmosphere right now.”

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New Mexico is running out of intensive care beds despite the state’s over-the-top vaccination. Decreasing immunity may play a role. People who have been vaccinated early and have not yet received accelerating shots may increase infection numbers, even if they still have some protection against the most terrible consequences of the virus.

“Delta and declining immunity – the combination of these two has repulsed us,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health sciences at the University of Washington. “This virus will stay with us for a long, long time.”

The delta variant dominates infections across the United States, accounting for more than 99% of the samples analyzed.

No state has achieved high enough vaccination, even if combined with infection-induced immunity, to prevent the type of outbreaks occurring now, Mokdad said.

A deviation from national recommendations, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order Thursday that allows any resident 18 or older access to a COVID-19 booster shot, another step to prevent hospitals and health care workers from being overwhelmed by the state increase. delta infections.

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Progress on vaccination continues, yet nearly 60 million Americans 12 and older remain unvaccinated. That’s an improvement since July, when 100 million were unvaccinated, said Jeff Zients, a White House COVID-19 coordinator.

First shots average about 300,000 a day, and the effort to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 is a strong start, Zients said in a briefing on Wednesday.

Linsey Marr of Virginia Tech, a leading researcher on the aerial spread of the coronavirus, predicted the northern spread of the virus in a Twitter post on September 15th. The virus spreads in the air and can grow in confined rooms with poor ventilation. Colder weather means more people indoors breathing the same air, Marr said.

Imagine that everyone you spend time with is a smoker and you want to breathe as little of their smoke as possible, she said.

“The closer you are to a smoker, the more exposure you have to that smoke,” Marr said. “And if you’re in a poorly ventilated room, the smoke increases over time.”

Marr said she and her vaccinated family will use quick tests before getting together for Christmas to check for an infection.

“It’s hard to know what’s going on with this virus,” Marr said. “We thought we knew, but delta really surprised us. We thought the vaccine would help end this, but things are still going on. It’s hard to know what will happen next.”

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Associated Press writers Ed White in Detroit and Corey Williams in West Bloomfield, Michigan, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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