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[KING COUNTY, Wash.] – (MTN) There is stronger evidence that cases are plateauing at a very high level in Washington state, while hospitalizations, the number of people in the ICU, and patients on respirators increase. School started from a number of districts across Washington today, and most districts start tomorrow in Western Washington.
On the national front, hospitalizations are approaching January 2021 levels, while the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older is moving the needle on vaccine hesitancy. The quest to find home remedies for COVID has taken a dark turn, with some people turning to a herbicide as a preventive. The state of New Jersey cracked down on an Instagram influencer who was selling fake vaccination cards, as well as some of her customers with a litany of felony charges.
This update uses the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health released on August 31, 2021.
Washington State Update for August 31, 2021
Washington state COVID update
We cannot provide insight into the epidemiological curve for new cases compared to last week because the data today is through August 19, 2021. Starting tomorrow, we can go back to discussing the daily trend.
Through August 19, the statewide 14 day rolling average for Washington declined to 500.7 COVID cases per 100K. Columbia (1,170.8 per 100K) and Franklin (1,079.0 per 100K) are reporting an extreme number of new cases. Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Cowlitz, Douglas, Grant, and Lincoln are not far behind. Among the counties with the highest new case rates, almost all were flat or declined for the first time in at least three weeks.
The Washington State Department of Health reports a data backlog for test positivity, with the published number 14 days old. According to Johns Hopkins University Medicine, the positivity rate for the last 30 days is 13.52%, and over the previous 7 days, 13.22%. These numbers indicate continued widespread community transmission driven by the unvaccinated and under testing of the population. The fastest-growing age group for positive remains 20 to 34-year-olds.
The 7-day Case Rate for children ages birth to 11 is 24.7 per 100K and for children, 12 to 19 it is 20.8 per 100K.
The USA Today COVID Tracker reported 27 COVID-related deaths in Washington on Monday.
BREAKING: Seattle Children’s Hospital reports first patient death due to COVID
Hospital officials reported the first death of a pediatric patient due to COVID, which occurred last week. No other information, citing privacy laws, was issued on the age and gender of the child.
“The people we are seeing in the hospital are typically people who are unvaccinated, either teens who are not vaccinated or younger people who are not eligible to be vaccinated,” said Dr. John McGuire. “We are clearly in a fifth wave here in Washington. And commensurate with that, we are seeing an increase in the number of kids needing hospitalization and needing intensive care.”
Washington State Fair announces COVID safety protocols day after state hospital officals call for its cancelation
Public health officials in Pierce County announced a series of safety protocols for the Washington State Fair scheduled to run from September 3 to 26, in Puyallup.
“As a condition of opening, Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, will issue a health order that requires masks be worn at all times at the Fair, indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status,” a news release said. “With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at an all-time high in Pierce County, this will help prevent and limit the spread of the virus.”
The fair will have masks available and will not be checking vaccination cards or doing screenings. State Fair CEO Kent Hojem made it clear that mask wear will not be optional. As additional precautions, officials will:
- Employees will be tested for COVID prior and during events
- The number of rides has been cut by 10% to provide more space for social distancing
- The number of vendors has been cut by 25%
- Extra handwashing and sanitizing stations will be available
Increasing vaccination numbers locally, statewide, and nationally indicate that the number of people who are hesitant to get vaccinated continues to decline. The latest Axios-Ipsos Coronavius Index showed only 14% of Americans now say they will never get a COVID vaccination, the lowest level since the data has been tracked. Just 1 in 5 Americans expressing they won’t or are not likely to get the vaccine.
The number of parents who now say they will vaccinate their children has grown to 68%, and 70% of Americans support mask mandates in school.
Vaccination rates in the United States have almost doubled since July, to 900,000 vaccinations given a day, including 14 million residents nationwide who got their first shot in August.
Full FDA approval, significant problems with school reopening, and the grim toll that the Delta variant is taking on the nation is attributed with driving the shifting opinions.
According to the DoH COVID Dashboard, 17.7% of all acute care patients hospitalized in Washington have COVID. This beats the old record of 17% set yesterday. ICUs are at 88.4% of capacity statewide with 33.5% of ICU patients with COVID.
The new hospital admission rate for COVID patients is 177 per day, also a new record. On August 30, there were 1,465 patients hospitalized with COVID and 241 on ventilators. This is a significant increase from yesterday when the state reported 182 patients on ventilators.
Data for pediatric patients for acute care and PICU is not available.
Several hospitals reported they were adding tents as triage space for patients to provide better social distancing and isolation as emergency departments burst at the seams. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, which operates St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw have or will be adding tents outside of their entrances. This is in addition to MultiCare facilities in Tacoma and Puyallup.
Back to School
First day of school for area districts:
- Lake Washington School District – September 1
- Bellevue School District – September 1, 1st through 12th, September 3, kindergarten
- Northshore School District – September 1, 1st through 12th, September 1 or September 2 for kindergarten on a staggered start
The Lake Washington School District is reporting 1,500 students have moved to remote learning after opening up registration again in mid-August. The Bellevue School District is accepting applications for remote learning through midnight tonight as demand surges across the Puget Sound region.
The next board meeting for the Lake Washington School District is September 13, 2021, at 7:00 PM and will be remote only.
Mask usage is increasing in the United States with 69% of residents reporting they are wearing a mask at some or all of the time outside of the home. Fifty-four percent of American businesses are requiring masks, and almost 20% have some form of vaccination or testing mandate in place.
The Biden Administration is working with oxygen suppliers, home health agencies, trade groups, and hospital systems as facilities in Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Louisiana are reporting oxygen shortages.
Under normal conditions, a hospital would have a 3 to 5 days supply of oxygen onsite, and the tanks would be refilled once or twice a week. In the hardest-hit areas, hospitals are dropping to a 12 to 24 hour supply, and only getting enough to last 2 or 3 days at each refill.
During the January 2021 peak, the industrial use of oxygen in restaurants, welding, and manufacturing was curtailed due to national shutdowns. Suppliers are being hit with a perfect storm of record medical grade and industrial demand, a trucking shortage, and state officials refusing to make emergency declarations.
After the story broke and started to spread, Amazon added a notice to searches for “ivermectin for humans” and “ivermectin covid.”
Big tech is pushing Ivermectin unchecked across their platforms
CNBC reported today that Amazon is directing users to the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin for animals. The Amazon search algorithm was displaying results for ivermectin after typing just “iv” into the search box, including ivermectin for horses, ivermectin paste, ivermectin pills, and ivermectin injectable.
User reviews made references to dosing information for “horse families” and false claims of being a cure for COVID (there is no cure, for COVID, only therapeutics).
Amazon isn’t alone. Yesterday there were reports that MSN, the 37th most visited web property in the United States with almost 900M monthly visitors, was running ads and paid content for “horse dewormer” on its homepage.
A search for “COVID” on Google News has highlighted a debunked editorial in the Wall Street Journal for a month under the “For Context” section called, Why is the FDA Attacking a Safe, Effective Drug? We featured that editorial in our misinformation section earlier this month.
Searches on Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook for “ivermectin” easily bring users to groups and creators information on alleged dosing information, where to buy, and how to treat. Calls in Florida to poison control have increased 700%, and people are reporting in online groups finding what they describe as “rope worms” in their feces. Intestinal parasites are exceptionally rare in the United States, and health officials are reporting that people are destroying their intestinal linings. You can do some Google image searches, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you’re stomach is weak.
New cases continue to decline as hospitalizations and ventilator use grows. Arkansas set a new record with 388 residents on ventilators out of 531 in the ICU – that’s a staggering 73% of all ICU patients. Outcomes for patients who go on ventilators improved dramatically in the second half of 2020, as doctors learned more about COVID. The ground gained has been lost due to patients showing up sicker than before, and the Delta variant being more virulent.
School started in Arizona a month ago, and pediatric cases are exploding. Children under 15 years old now represent 25% of all new COVID cases, and parents are becoming increasingly frustrated with only 30% of the state’s 215 school districts providing some form of daily update.
Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said having a “more systematic,” more transparent strategy for preventing and tracking school-based cases would go a long way toward curbing the spread of the virus.
“What we have is a patchwork — a great deal of variability in policies and practices,” Beyrer said. “While local nuances are important, there’s nothing like rational statewide and national planning to get this right. And we’re just not there.”
Parents have turned to crowd-sourcing information on social media to paint a picture on what is going on within their home districts.
Governor Gavin Newsome reported that 80% of all age-eligible residents in the state have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. This is a major milestone for the state of almost 40 million residents, with a number of rural counties with continued low uptake of the vaccine. It is worth noting for the states west of the Rockies, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, California is the only state that isn’t at or near crisis mode.
Nurse Davy Macias (she/her) was hospitalized with COVID in early August while 7 months pregnant with her fifth child. The hospital did an emergency delivery as her conditioned worried, and Marcias passed on August 26. She was unvaccinated and was holding off until after her pregnancy was complete. Other officials are reporting that the Delta variant is hitting pregnant women particularly hard across the United States. The FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine to people over 16, including pregnant women.
Officials in Georgia are sounding the alarm as some hospitals are now rationing care and growing concern over looming hospital system collapse at a regional level. The state’s official count of COVID-19 patients in Georgia’s hospitals on Tuesday was just below the January peak number, but at times it has swelled past it. And every hospital across Georgia is now full to the point of overflowing. Georgia reported that hospitals had 5,656 COVID patients, about50 patients below the January peak of 5,709. But at some hours in recent days, according to the Georgia Hospital Association, the number has topped 5,900. The drop from the peak hasn’t been driven by discharges, but fatalities from COVID and those waiting for non-COVID-related treatment.
“I don’t mean to sound super doomsday-ish, but I think that if this growth continues, that we’re going to be risking regional hospital system collapse,” said Amber Schmidtke, a health care data researcher, who tracks Georgia’s COVID-19 trends.
“I know that that will scare people,” Schmidtke said. “But I think that that is what we’re risking. I’ve had M.D.s that are on the ground tell me the same thing: ‘This is unsustainable. We’re already at a point where we’re having to sort of triage care and decide who gets what based on limited resources and personnel.”
Anecdotal data on ICU nurse burnout continues across the country. Nurse Amber Rampy walked away from The Northeast Georgia Medical Center after 20 months on the front lines.
“I just left on Friday because I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t,” Rampy said.
“Although I’m used to people dying, I’m just not used to this many,” Rampy said.
75 have died at the North Georgia hospital where she worked during the first 30 days in August, and the hospital has 248 patients with COVID in the ICU.
Deaths in the state included a 13-year-old who was found dead of COVID by his parents Monday morning. The child was reported to have no medical conditions, and no information was provided on why the parents hadn’t sought medical treatment.
“A number of young people are being hospitalized, particularly between the ages of 5 and 17. There is a doubling of that in Georgia,” said Dr. Gary Voccio, northwest district director for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Floyd Medical Center, like many across the state, is struggling to cope with a tidal wave of COVID patients — at least 90% of whom are unvaccinated.
“(There are) No beds at any of the hospitals,” Voccio said. “The physicians are exhausted, the nurses are exhausted and it’s just time to get the vaccine. We are imploring, begging people to get vaccinated It could save your life.”
Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order to allot more weight in transportation, allowing for more equipment to get to hospitals and fuel to get to gas stations across the state.
Kemp said the decision comes after receiving reports that healthcare systems have had trouble accessing necessary supplies, including reports of some rural acute care hospitals running out of oxygen.
Gov. Kemp also touched on his previous executive order, which deployed 105 medically trained National Guard members to 10 hospitals across the state. Over the weekend, he said an additional 75 guard members were deployed, bringing the total number up to 180.
Kemp said that while many hospital systems have requested guardsmen, they are limited in the number of those who are medically trained. However, his new executive order would also allow for the deployment of up to 2,500 National Guard members, should they be needed.
Police Capitan Joe Manning of the Wayne County Sheriff Department, who was a vocal critic of vaccinations and posted frequently on social media about ivermectin, died of COVID on August 25. On his Facebook post, Captain Manning complained about Facebook “disciplining him” and how we was taking ivermectin daily as a COVID preventative.
Governor Ron DeSantis stayed true to his promise and cut the funding to Alachua and Broward counties over their implementation of school mask mandates. This is despite a Florida court ruling against the government over the ban. The United States Department of Education has already reached out to both districts and had previously promised to cover any gaps in funding. The counties of Orange, Duval, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Palm Beach, Indian River, and Leon also have mask mandates in place, but the governor has not taken further action at this time.
While the debate over masks and schools rages, Florida set a record for the number of pediatric patients with COVID in the hospital on Tuesday with 72 new admissions and 230 total patients. With the debate raging, parents chose violence in Lee County where tempers boiled over outside a school board meeting on Sunday.
The governor is under fire from multiple directions with allegations of trying to artificially lower the number of COVID deaths in how data is reported, and a lawsuit over public information on COVID within the state. Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, and the Florida Center for Government Accountability filed the lawsuit late Monday in Leon County circuit court after the department rebuffed requests for information.
The state until early June posted on its website daily reports that provided extensive data about issues such as cases and deaths, with information also broken down by county. But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration halted the daily reports in June and shifted to posting weekly information that is far less detailed.
The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Health and Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, the department’s secretary, have violated public-records laws at a time when the delta variant of the coronavirus has caused cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to surge in Florida.
“Due to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and its ‘continuing threat’ to Floridians, records revealing information about its impact, prevalence, and fatality is of obvious public importance,” the lawsuit said.
Until three weeks ago, according to the Herald, data collected by Florida and then posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tallied deaths by the date they were recorded, which is reportedly common practice for showing daily statistics in many states.
On Aug. 10, however, the state changed its methodology and started counting daily new deaths by the date the person died instead of the day the death was registered. A handful of other states have also reportedly switched to such a process.
When recording COVID-19 deaths with the new method, which focuses on date of death, the numbers will generally appear to be on a recent downward slope, even during the current surge, the Herald reported, because it takes a certain amount of time to evaluate deaths and process death certificates.
The Herald laid out an example of the discrepancy between the two methods: the state’s death data would have exhibited an average of 262 deaths reported to the CDC in the previous week if the health department used the original reporting system, according to the newspaper’s analysis.
Instead, however, the new reporting system only tracked 46 new daily deaths over the last seven days. The change came one day after the state was criticized for showing inaccurate information on its COVID dashboard. Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Florida state Department of Health, said they were working with the CDC to adjust the discrepancies.
Hospitalizations have declined in Florida, while the numbers in ICU continue to grow. Some are crediting the 10% reduction in hospitalizations to the opening of monoclonal antibody treatment centers in the state. The state has reported treating over 30,000 people since the centers were opened earlier in the month.
Hawaii is another state sounding the alarm over an oxygen shortage. Hawaii Pacific Health President and CEO Ray Vara recently directed staff in an internal memo to conserve the oxygen supply and “avoid using oxygen for anything that is elective.”
“We will therefore need to cancel all elective procedures in operating rooms and elsewhere, including outpatient settings, where oxygen may be needed. Any cases that can be deferred safely should be deferred until the oxygen supply solutions are clearer,” he wrote. “At each HPH facility, surgical and facility leaders will be activating review processes to help with these decisions.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the situation is all the more concerning given that cases continue to soar. The remote location of the island and the dependency on ships to supplement the supply creates additional challenges. State officials say they are working with the federal government.
Kootenai Health in Coeur de Alene is getting additional support from a 20 person Department of Defense team, delaying a potential move to “crisis standards of care.” In a press conference today Idaho Governor Brad Little activated the national guard, deploying up to 150 servicemembers to provide support for medical facilities, performing screenings, lab work, and other logistical duties that can help lift the burden on nurses and doctors. An additional 200 medical and administrative personnel will be made available to Idaho through a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration.
The governor described the activation of the National Guard as a last-ditch effort to avoid hospitals reaching crisis standards of care, where ventilators, hospital beds, and other resources will be allocated to those most likely to survive.
“On a daily call with hospitals this morning, we heard there are only four standard adult ICU beds available in the entire state. Where hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds, those are filling up too,” Governor Little said. “We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care – a historic step that means Idahoans in need of healthcare could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away altogether. In essence, someone would have to decide who can be treated and who cannot. This affects all of us, not just patients with COVID-19.”
“Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained. Our healthcare system is designed to deal with the everyday realities of life. Our healthcare system is not designed to withstand the prolonged strain caused by a global pandemic. It is simply not sustainable. Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans who need you,” Governor Little said.
Hospital officials asked to move to crisis care standards over the weekend, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has a briefing scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30 PM Seattle time.
There isn’t much news coming out of Louisiana specific to COVID as the Gulf state reels from the sucker punch Hurricane Ida delivered. Officials were able to relocate patients from damaged hospitals and nursing homes, and there were no fatalities reported related to that activity.
Thousands are in shelters without electricity or air conditioning and a limited water supply. In some good news officials now believe that power can be restored to 90% of people within three weeks, and some power should come back on in New Orleans tomorrow. So far, reports are favorable of people remaining patient, respecting curfews, limited crime, and good mask wear within shelters.
Ohio University has joined more than 800 colleges and universities across the United States mandating vaccination for faculty and staff.
Ohio University President Hugh Sherman wrote, “All Ohio students, faculty, and staff at all locations are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 15, 2021. For vaccines that require two doses, both doses must be completed by this date. This applies to all employees, including those working remotely and all students except those enrolled exclusively in fully online programs and coursework who will not access University facilities on any campus in person.”
“It’s important to note, there will be an opportunity to apply for an exemption of the vaccine requirement for medical reasons or for reasons of conscience, including ethical and moral beliefs or sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Like other states seeing a spike in cases, hospitals in Ohio are starting to cancel elective procedures. On Tuesday, Ohio reported the largest number of new cases in a single day since January 2021.
Jasmine Clifford, better known by her Instagram handled of “AntiVaxMomma” was arrested for selling 250 fake vaccination cards. Clifford, from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was charged with multiple felonies on Tuesday with offering a false instrument, criminal possession of a forged instrument, and conspiracy.
Nadayza Barkley, of Bellport, Long Island was also charged with falsifying information in the COVID database. Clifford sold fake vaccination cards through her Instagram account for $200, and for another $250 Barkley would enter bogus data into the New York state vaccination database.
Prosecutors say Barkley entered more than 10 names into the state’s vaccine database while working at a Patchogue medical clinic and received payments for her work from Clifford through the services Zelle and CashApp.
Additional charges were also filed Monday against 15 people involved in the fake vaccination card scheme, including 13 frontline healthcare workers. The workers employed at hospitals and nursing homes are facing one count each of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, a felony. A conviction would be career-ending for the 13 offenders.
Facebook, which owns Instagram defended its apparent lack of oversight, stating they removed the Instagram account in August.
Governor Kristi Noem has activated the national guard and not for border duty in Mexico, but to support straining hospitals in the Black Hills.
The governor’s office confirmed Tuesday morning soldiers are in the Black Hills conducting COVID-19 testing, and Gov. Noem later in the day said in a statement she authorized the deployment at the request of Rapid City-based Monument Health.
“This past week, I had conversations with all three South Dakota hospital systems and asked them what they needed as cases start to rise again,” the governor said. “Monument asked for the National Guard to assist them in their testing efforts, and we are happy to help.”
New cases in the state have exploded in the three weeks after Sturgis, reaching levels last seen in January 2021. The state positivity rate has jumped to 30%, which indicates major under testing and unchecked spread of COVID. Just four counties, Pennington, the home of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Meade, Lawrence and Custer are responsible for half of all reported COVID cases in the state.
Monument Health reported at the start of August they had less than 10 COVID patients system-wide – they now have 110.
Glyphosate. If you read that and think to yourself, “isn’t that part of the herbicides in RoundUp,” you would be correct. You will also likely be stunned that in some of the darker corners of the Internet, people are advocating drinking Glyphosate as a preventative for COVID.
Pure Glyphosate is a herbicide invented in 1974, and in its pure form has a reputation of being relatively safe and not readily absorbed through the skin when used properly, However, if intentionally ingested, it can cause increased saliva, burns in the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Most commercial products contain other ingredients beyond Glyphosate (such as RoundUp) and can make people extremely sick, or cause death if consumed. No, Glyphosate does not cure or prevent COVID, nor is it indicated to treat any illness in humans or animals.
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