MISSION, Kan. (AP) – COVID-19 cases have tripled in the United States over two weeks amid a flood of vaccine misinformation that is putting pressure on hospitals, draining doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.
“Our staff is frustrated,” said Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonville, which canceled elective surgeries and procedures after the number of hospitalized mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients on its two campuses rose to 134, down from a low of 16 in mid-May.
“They are tired. They are thinking that this is déjà vu once again, and there is some anger because we know that this is a situation that is largely preventable and that people are not taking advantage of the vaccine.”
Across the US, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases in the US rose in the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, down from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to University data. Johns Hopkins. Health officials blame the delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. Only 56.2% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s like watching the car accident before it happens,” said Dr. James Williams, associate clinical professor of emergency medicine at Texas Tech, who recently began treating more COVID-19 patients. “None of us want to go through this again.”
He said the patients are younger, many in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and most are not vaccinated.
“People were begging for this,” he said of the vaccine. “And surprisingly it was put together in a year, which is just amazing. People don’t even appreciate that. In a year, we got a vaccine. And now they’re thinking, ‘Hmm, I don’t know if I’ll make it.’
As senior pastor of one of the largest churches in Missouri, Jeremy Johnson has heard the reasons why parishioners do not want the COVID-19 vaccine. He wants them to know that it’s not only okay to get vaccinated, it’s what the Bible urges.
“I think there is a great influence of fear,” said Johnson, whose Springfield-based church also has a campus in Nixa and another about to open in Republic. “Fear of trusting something other than Scripture, fear of trusting something other than a political party that they feel more comfortable following. Fear of trusting science. We hear that: ‘I trust God, not science.’ But truth is science and God is not something you have to choose from. “
Now many churches in southwestern Missouri, such as North Point Church affiliated with Johnson’s Assembly of God, are hosting vaccination clinics. Meanwhile, around 200 church leaders signed a statement urging Christians to get vaccinated and announced a follow-up public service campaign on Wednesday.
Opposition to vaccination is especially strong among white evangelical Protestants, who make up more than a third of Missourians, according to a 2019 report from the Pew Research Center.
“We found the faith community to be very influential, very trustworthy, and for me that’s one of the answers on how to increase their vaccination rates,” said Ken McClure, Mayor of Springfield.
The two hospitals in his city are full of patients, reaching record levels and near-record levels of pandemics. Steve Edwards, who is the CEO of CoxHealth in Springfield, tweeted that the hospital has brought in 175 mobile nurses and has 46 more scheduled to arrive on Monday.
“Thankful for the help,” wrote Edwards, who previously tweeted that anyone who spreads misinformation about the vaccine should “Shut.”
In New York City, workers at city-run hospitals and health clinics will need to be vaccinated or tested weekly as officials battle a surge in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. .
De Blasio’s order will not apply to teachers, police officers and other city employees, but it is part of the city’s intense focus on vaccines amid a surge in delta-variant infections.
The number of vaccine doses given daily in the city has dropped to less than 18,000, from a peak of more than 100,000 in early April. About 65% of all adults are fully vaccinated, but the inoculation rate is around 25% among black adults under 45 years of age. About 45% of the workforce in the city’s public hospital system is black.
Meanwhile, the number of cases has increased in the city for weeks, and health officials say the variant accounts for about 7 out of 10 cases they sequence.
“We need our healthcare workers to be vaccinated, and it is getting dangerous with the delta variant,” de Blasio told CNN.
In Louisiana, health officials reported 5,388 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, saying it is the third highest daily count since the pandemic began in early 2020. Hospitalizations for the disease rose to 844 statewide. , more than 600 since mid-June.
In New Orleans, officials weighed a possible revival of at least some of the mitigation efforts that had eased as the disease subsided.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the city’s top health official, Dr. Jennifer Avegno was expected to make an announcement later Wednesday. On Tuesday, Cantrell spokesman Beau Tidwell said “all options are on the table.”
Salter reported from St. Louis.