COVID News: U.S. infections decline, but hospitals still struggling to meet high demand

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

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Sunday, October 10, 2021
Officials urge vaccination as number of people traveling on rise
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Officials are urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as more and more people are travelling once again.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The big picture for Covid-19 in the US is looking a little brighter as new infections and hospitalizations are down. But several regions are still struggling with a high number of cases and strained health care resources.

One doctor in Michigan said he'd seen headlines about Covid-19 progress but struggled to feel relief because his hospital remains overwhelmed with patients.

"I had just worked a couple of shifts in a row where I had six, seven people sitting in the emergency department, waiting for beds at other hospitals that didn't exist, waiting or ambulances that were six, seven hours away from being able to bring them to those places," Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in West Michigan, told CNN Saturday.

In Davidson's overwhelmed hospital, he's seeing unvaccinated Covid-19 patients in their 50s being placed on ventilators, usually for at least a month, and enduring invasive procedures to stay alive.

Davidson noted it's important for people to understand that "not dying from Covid is a great thing, but that isn't the only metric we should be using."

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

Virus has taken caregivers of 140,000 U.S. kids

More than 140,000 US children have lost a parent or grandparent who takes care of them to Covid-19, CDC researchers reported Thursday, which is as many as one in 500 US kids. Children from racial and ethnic minorities were far more likely to lose such a caregiver, the CDC-led team found. "The findings illustrate orphanhood as a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and emphasizes that identifying and caring for these children throughout their development is a necessary and urgent part of the pandemic response -- both for as long as the pandemic continues, as well as in the post-pandemic era," the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which helped pay for the study, said in a statement. National Center for Health Statistics data through June showed children of racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 65% of those who lost a primary caregiver, while White children accounted for 35%, even though minorities account for just 39% of the US population.

New York reaches COVID vaccine milestone

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Saturday that 85% of adult New Yorkers have now received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. "Yesterday, we hit a major milestone. Eighty-five percent of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, putting us one step closer to ending this pandemic and getting our lives back to normal," Governor Hochul said. Over 70,000 vaccine doses were administered over last 24 hours.

Busy travel season expected despite pandemic

The White House says 78% of adults have now gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and there is a push to boost vaccinations ahead of what's expected to be a busy holiday travel season. United Airlines says it plans to fly 3,500 domestic flights in December every single day. That's almost as many flights were in the air back in 2019. United adds flight searches are up 16% compared to before the pandemic. The CDC is also reminding Americans to get their flu shots, saying it will help reduce strain on already overwhelmed hospitals.

Vice President Kamala Harris visits New Jersey in COVID vaccination push

New Jersey got high-profile reinforcement Friday in its push to encourage more residents to get vaccinated against COVID. Vice President Kamala Harris is in New Jersey as the Tri-State area prepares for the impending expansion of the vaccine eligibility pool. She arrived at Newark Airport where she was greeted by Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, and other officials. The vice president will be at a vaccination center at Essex County College Friday afternoon in the latest push to get people vaccinated.

Experts explain why lawsuits against COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail

From teachers to airlines workers, some employees who have faced termination for not complying with their company's COVID-19 vaccine mandates have gone to court to fight the decisions. Some of the plaintiffs, such as New York City Department of Education employees, a handful of Los Angeles county public employees and United Airlines workers, have argued that the mandates should be removed, questioning the rules' constitutionality and some contending their religious rights weren't observed. So far, these arguments have not swayed judges who have almost all ruled in favor of the employer, or not issued long injunctions while they hear the case. And legal experts tell ABC News they don't expect different outcomes in courtrooms anytime soon.

What to know about religious exemptions for COVID shots as vaccine mandates roll out

With COVID-19 vaccine mandates proliferating across the country in the public and private sectors as well as some school districts, the pushback from those unwilling or hesitant to get their shots is heating up. The vaccination effort has raised new questions about exemptions because mandates for adults are generally rare outside of settings like healthcare facilities and the military, and the inoculations are relatively new.

While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions -- a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This leaves employers in the difficult and legally precarious position of determining whether the requests are valid. As such, some states have tried to do away with non-medical exemptions overall for their employees.

Hochul announces $125 million for landlord rent relief

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $125 million in state funding is now available to help landlords who couldn't participate in the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program due to a federal requirement for tenants to participate in the application process. Administered by the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and accepting applications starting Thursday, Oct. 7, the Landlord Rental Assistance Program provides up to 12 months of past-due rent to landlords who are ineligible for the federally funded program because their tenants either declined to complete an application or vacated the residence with arrears. Priority will be given to those landlords owning small-to-medium-sized properties.

"Getting pandemic relief money out the door to New Yorkers has been a top priority for my administration since day one," Governor Hochul said. "I am proud that our state's rental assistance program has already provided much needed relief to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, but there are still many small landlords ineligible for that relief because of federal rules who also need our help. This funding is a critical tool to close that gap and help more New Yorkers recover from the pandemic."

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