Oregon sending 500 National Guard to hospitals as state surpasses Covid record three days in a row

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Oregon is sending 500 National Guard troops to regional hospitals as public health officials announced the state has broken its record of new Covid cases three days in a row.

Governor Kate Brown said on Friday that hospitals are at risk of becoming overwhelmed as Oregon is facing its biggest wave of infections of the entire pandemic.

“I know this is not the summer many of us envisioned with over 2.5million Oregonians vaccinated against Covid-19,” Governor Brown said in a video message. “The harsh and frustrating reality is that the Delta variant has changed everything.”

A total of 1,500 troops could be deployed and the governor has requested additional support from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As of Friday, 733 people are currently hospitalized with Covid in Oregon, including 185 patients in intensive care.

“Our hospitals are full. Patients are boarding and being cared for in emergency departments when they should be admitted to hospital beds. Our ICUs are full. Our doctors and nurses are exhausted and rightfully frustrated because this crisis is avoidable,” Dr David Zonies, associate chief medical officer at Oregon Health & Science University told KGW-TV.

“It is like watching a train wreck coming and knowing that there’s an opportunity to switch tracks, yet we feel helpless while we watch the unnecessary loss of life.”

The US is among the countries with the highest rates of new Covid cases as the Delta variant sweeps a number of states.

The US has reported 1.5 million cases so far in August, and more than 2.5 million in the last 28-day period, according to figures from John Hopkins University.

India, Indonesia, and Brazil have all reported just over a million cases each in the same 28-day period.

The surge in US cases is largely taking place in southern states where vaccination rates have lagged. The Biden administration has called this wave “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

However states like Oregon, and also Hawaii, which have somewhat promising vaccination rates are also seeing more Delta cases. In Oregon, 56.7 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, and in Hawaii its 54.2 per cent.

The seven-day average of cases in Hawaii is 605 daily, about double this time last year. Hospitalizations have increased by nearly 130 per cent in Oregon and by 140 per cent in Hawaii over the last two weeks.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported on Friday that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 increased for the third straight day.

The number jumped 63 per cent from 12 to 13 August, reaching 733 hospitalizations. The authority also reported 1,785 new cases, totalling 238,463 infections in the state of more than four million residents. The Covid death toll in Oregon is 2,935.

A statewide indoor mask mandate in Oregon went into effect on Friday. Everyone over the age of five now needs to wear a mask in most indoor places, and everyone over two yeon public transport.

At most, the state of Hawaii had 291 people in hospital with Covid-19 on a single day in 2020. This Friday, public health officials said around 300 patients would be hospitalized.

Demand for vaccinations was promising early on in the island state but it took three weeks to get from 50 to 60 per cent of those eligible to fully vaccinated – much longer than expected.

And while Hawaii’s economy depends on tourism, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Hilton Raethel, told the Associated Press that the increase in viwas not behind the uptick in cases.

“The tourists have been a source for infection, but they’ve never been the predominant source of infection,” Mr Raethel said. “There’s a lot more concern about people from Hawaii, residents who go to the South, go to Vegas, to other places, and they come back and spread it.”

Public health officials in southern Oregon, a region where less than half the population is vaccinated, are worried that the situation will get worse.

“I’m fearful that the darkest days of this pandemic may still be ahead of us,” Chris Pizzi, CEO of Providence Medical Center in Medford, told the Associated Press.

Per capita, Louisiana is the US state with the highest rate of new cases, with Florida in second place.

“This is starting to look really ominous in the South... If you look at rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they’re actually probably the highest in the world,” Dr Peter Hotez at the National School of Tropical Medicine told CNN on Friday.

“There is a screaming level of transmission across the southern states right now. And now we’re starting to see this happening among younger age groups.”

Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on Friday the state hit a high of 2,907 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals.

“Our staff at our hospitals, nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists and physician's assistants, you name it, they’re maxed out,” the governor said.

“I will tell you that I’ve never heard them express more concern, more alarm, or anxiety than they did this week because we are rapidly approaching the breaking point.”

The director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama, Dr David Kimberlin, told CNN on Friday that the state has seen an increase in infants and teenagers entering hospital with Covid.

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