COVID News: Florida doctors beg people to get vaccinated as hospitals fill

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021
CDC panel meets on COVID booster shots as hospitalizations soar
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A CDC panel is meeting Monday to discuss the latest research on the COVID vaccines and when most Americans will need booster shots.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Doctors from Lee Health Facilities, a health care system in Florida that consists of four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals, are begging residents to get vaccinated as hospital beds remain unavailable.

Patients are currently waiting for beds in hallways and closets, doctors announced at a news conference Monday.

Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida, admitted 92 COVID-19 patients on Sunday alone, and eight to 12 patients in the health system are dying every day, Dr. Larry Antonucci, CEO of Lee Health, told reporters, saying the deaths are "not necessary."

"Our COVID rate in this county is three times what we're seeing throughout the rest of the United States," Antonucci said.

Nearly 50% of people coming into the hospital system's emergency department are seeking treatment for issues related to COVID-19, said Dr. Timothy Dougherty, medical director for emergency management.

"That number is insane," Dougherty said, adding that people in their 20s and 30s are dying as well. "No other disease demands these amounts of resources, including BiPAP and ventilators, and all that could be prevented with the vaccine."

The neonatal intensive units within the hospital system are "overflowing" as well, Dr. Stephanie Stoval, a pediatric infectious disease specialist said, adding that pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are more likely to go into labor early or have pregnancy complications.

"It's never been this full before," Stoval said.

The hospital system is looking for additional spaces to expand treatment, Antonucci said.

-ABC News' Cherise Rudy

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:

Honolulu to require vaccine or negative COVID-19 test at most indoor businesses

The city of Honolulu has implemented an indoor vaccine requirement for most public businesses, set to begin next month.

All patrons will need to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and other establishments.

NY won't implement vaccine mandate for school staff, Hochul says

Mandatory vaccinations in all state-run congregate facilities are being explored, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced during her first COVID briefing on Tuesday.

But New York will not implement a vaccination mandate for school employees, and will instead opt to require weekly testing for the unvaccinated.

NJ likely to re-open vaccine mega-sites for booster shots

New Jersey will "almost certainly" reopen some of its COVID-19 vaccination mega-sites to meet the demand for upcoming booster shots, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

Murphy said he's just waiting for the CDC's final authorization on the eligibility window for booster shots.

Massapequa schools to comply with state mask mandate after all

Massapequa School District said students will comply with the state mandate requiring masks in schools after all.

The school board had voted to make masks optional before the New York State Department of Health filed an emergency regulation last week requiring all students, faculty and staff of schools to wear masks inside school buildings.

In a letter to the community, Superintendent of Schools Lucille Iconis said the board was still working on a possible legal challenge.

Children with COVID-19 hits second highest mark on record

The U.S. continues to see a concerning surge in children with COVID-19 as schools reopen and students head back to class.

In a newly released weekly report, which compiles state-by-state data on COVID-19 cases among children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA) found that just under 204,000 new child COVID-19 cases were reported last week, marking the second highest week on record.

Nassau County vaccine milestone

County Executive Laura Curran announced that one million Nassau County residents have now received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

"Nassau County has the highest adult vaccination rate in New York State and the third highest in the United States and we're committed to keeping up our momentum," Curran said.

Nurse with 5 children, including newborn, dies from COVID as husband remains hospitalized

Family members are mourning the loss of an ER nurse from southern California who died from COVID-19 as her husband remains in the hospital with the virus.

Davy Macias, a mother of five and registered nurse who had been caring for patients since the beginning of the pandemic, died Thursday after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

"She touched everybody's life. When she's there, she's an advocate for all of her patients. It's always for the benefit of the patient and the babies. She's a great and amazing woman," her sister added.

NJ to end pandemic unemployment benefits

New Jersey will end the coronavirus-related unemployment benefits program on Sept. 4, Gov. Murphy announced. The governor says the cost to the state is too high. "The proper way to extend federal UI benefits is through federal action, not a patchwork of state ones," he said.

What to know about delta and other COVID-19 variants of concern

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the COVID-19 delta variant as one of its "variants of concern" (VOCs) on June 15. According to the CDC, VOCs can be more contagious, more dangerous, less susceptible to available treatments or harder to detect. The current VOCs all have mutations in the virus's spike protein, which acts as a key to break into cells to infect them. And that's a potential concern because the spike protein from the original version of the virus is what scientists used to design all three authorized vaccines. It's also what monoclonal antibody treatments latch on to so the virus can't get into your cells, effectively "neutralizing" the threat. So far none of these mutations have changed the virus enough to undercut the vaccines. The uncontrolled spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, means the virus is mutating quickly. That's why many new variants are being discovered in places with the highest infection rates and large numbers of unvaccinated individuals, like the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Brazil.

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