POST 180, July 20, 2021. CORONAVIRUS. “Most people will either get vaccinated, or have been previously infected, or they will get this Delta variant,”.. “And for most people who get this Delta variant, it’s going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital,” (A)

said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration during the Trump administration….

Texas hospital reports its 1st case of lambda COVID-19 variant

for links to POSTS 1-180 in chronological order, highlight and click on

“In research posted online, scientists examining 62 cases of the Delta variant found viral loads about 1,260 times higher than those found from 63 cases from the early epidemic wave in 2020.

The Delta variant is also sending younger and previously healthy people to hospitals — the vast majority of which have not been vaccinated, say doctors in several states suffering surges.

“This year’s virus is not last year’s virus,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, an infectious disease specialist at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“It’s attacking our 40-year-olds. It’s attacking our parents and young grandparents. And it’s getting our kids,” O’Neal said. She said her Covid-19 unit now has more patients in their 20s who were previously healthy.

“You have to get vaccinated,” O’Neal said. “That’s the only way to end it. Masks and mitigation, they’re not going to take it. It’s going to be vaccination.”

Since February, 97% of cases and deaths related to Covid-19 in Louisiana were among people not fully vaccinated, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday… (A)

“The U.S. surgeon general said Sunday that he’s concerned about what lies ahead with cases of COVID-19 increasing in every state, millions still unvaccinated and a highly contagious virus variant spreading rapidly.

Noting that nearly all coronavirus deaths now are among the tens of millions of people who haven’t received shots, despite widespread vaccine availability, Dr. Vivek Murthy painted an unsettling picture of what the future could hold.

“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

U.S. cases of COVID-19 last week increased by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall, and an increase in death historically follows a spike in illness. Much of the worsening problem is being driven by the delta variant first identified in India, that has since hit the United Kingdom and other countries, said Murthy.” (B)

“Of the many questions that continue to circulate about the COVID-19 pandemic, what the future holds with the Delta variant is likely one of the most prevalent.

“If you’re vaccinated, you should not worry about the Delta variant. If you’re not vaccinated, you are really in trouble because it is likely that you will get infected,” Carlos del Rio, MD, said at a media briefing today sponsored by Emory University in Atlanta.

In the past 2 weeks, US COVID-19 cases increased by about 140% and hospitalizations and deaths are up approximately 30%.

“The pandemic is not over,” del Rio said. The global death rate now exceeds 4 million, including 1.8 million deaths last year. “More people died in the first 6 months of 2021 that in the entire year of 2020.”

He attributed the rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to the Delta variant. “I want to emphasize the Delta variant is incredibly infectious, highly transmissible,” said del Rio, professor of medicine, epidemiology, and global health and executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine at Grady Health System.

To put the higher transmission in perspective, each person infected with the original SARS-CoV-2 virus was likely to infect 2.5 to 3 others. Someone infected with the Delta variant is likely to infect eight or nine people, who in turn can infect another eight or nine people, and so on, triggering exponential spread…

“Please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, get vaccinated because that is the best protection you have against this very transmissible Delta variant.” The best time to get vaccinated was 1 month ago; the second-best time to get vaccinated is today, del Rio added.” (C)

“Driven by a highly contagious variant of the virus and the significant share of Floridians who remain unvaccinated, the number of new infections reported weekly by Florida’s health department has increased more than fourfold in a month, from 10,095 cases for the week ending June 17 to 45,449 on Friday…

Jackson Health, Miami-Dade’s public hospital system, said the number of COVID-positive patients admitted for overnight care at its three hospitals had ballooned from 66 on July 6 to 139 on Monday, a 111% spike.

At Baptist Health South Florida, there were 303 inpatients with COVID across the system’s 10 hospitals in Monroe, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties — nearly three times the number of patients in late June.

And at Memorial Healthcare System, which runs six hospitals in South Broward, administrators reported there were 225 patients with COVID on Sunday, compared to 92 patients with COVID on June 19.

Dr. Marc Napp, chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare, said much of the increase is likely driven by the Delta variant, a highly contagious mutation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and the significant share of Floridians who remain unvaccinated…

The rise in new infections and hospitalizations in Florida reflects a national and global increase, though the Sunshine State is leading most other U.S. states in case counts…

Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist and professor with the University of South Florida in Tampa, has been tracking the pandemic since 2020. Salemi reports findings on his website, and said he is alarmed by the recent rise in cases and hospitalizations…

He said the number of counties reporting positive test rates of more than 10% has jumped dramatically in a very short time.

“Just three weeks ago, 11 of our 67 counties had a positivity over 10%,” he said. “It’s now 53 out of 67 have a positivity over 10%. It is widespread. Everybody is on the rise.”..

On June 19, he said, Florida had 1,764 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. As of July 17, the number had risen to 4,100 statewide. Salemi said Florida ranks fourth highest in per-capita hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the United States, behind Arkansas, Missouri and Nevada.

“It’s the speed with which this is happening that’s quite scary,” he said.

“There’s still 8 million people of vaccine-eligible age in Florida who are not vaccinated,” he said. “Almost one million of those are people 65 and older” — the population at highest risk of getting severely ill and dying from the disease…

“Any surge starts the way this surge is starting,” Napp said. “There’s no way to know how long it will last or how high it will go. But if we do nothing differently, meaning that if this very infectious virus is out in the community and people don’t change behaviors … and don’t get vaccinated, it’s a guarantee it will go up.

“Something has to change to bring that back down,” he said. “It’s not going to do it by itself.”” (D)

“Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) officials said nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have been among people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

About a month ago, the number of COVID-19 patients at SMH was in the single digits and no one was in the hospital’s ICU. As of Monday morning, the hospital had 36 patients with the virus. Of those patients, seven are in the ICU.

“Once there is more mobility in a population, interact more, they go out especially indoors, they get into crowded environments and on top of that without masks, that’s a recipe that the virus loves,” said Dr. Manuel Gordillo, Sarasota Memorial Infectious Disease specialist.

Hospital officials said many of the patients are younger than the patients the hospital has previously seen. Some patients are in their 30s.

“Some people that are vaccinated may pick up the virus, but they’re asymptomatic or they have like a flu-like illness and relatively mild. When it comes to severe disease, it’s largely unvaccinated folks,” said Dr. Gordillo.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital said as for breakthrough infections, most cases continue to be mild. Of nearly 100 patients admitted with COVID to SMH during the past 30 days, only 6 have met the criteria for a break-through infection (patients who test positive for COVID at least 14 days after completing their COVID vaccine series).

Officials with Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center said the majority of its hospitalized patients are not vaccinated.

As of Monday, 102 patients are hospitalized with the virus at Lakeland Regional Health. About 27 people are waiting on test results. About 95% of people are not vaccinated.” (E)

“While COVID cases are on the rise across the United States, Tampa General Hospital’s Global Emerging Diseases Institute (GEDI) has not only seen an uptick in cases, but hospitalizations as well.

“It used to be around 10 patients, then it went up to 30 and now we are up to 56 patients today,” said Dr. Seetha Lakshmi, Medical Director for GEDI at Tampa General Hospital.

More than 90% of the patients are unvaccinated and most of them range in age from 20 to 50-years-old.

“It’s heartbreaking to see we have a 17-year-old, 20-year-old, 30-year-old, 40-year-old. It’s heartbreaking to see them actually be admitted to the hospital,” added Dr. Lakshmi.

The Department of Health in Hillsborough County says 46% of residents 12-years and older have at least one dose of the vaccine, while 38% are fully vaccinated.

“Our cases, hospitalizations, even deaths are all going up while our vaccination numbers are going down; these things are very directly correlated,” said Dr. Douglas Holt, Medical Director, Department of Health Hillsborough County.

“The way the Delta variant is panning out, if you’re are vaccinated you might get a head cold, if you’re not vaccinated, you go through the whole thing of lung disease, ventilator, it’s really heartbreaking,” said Dr. Lakshmi.

Dr. Lakshmi is urging those who have not been vaccinated yet to get one. She said if people are nervous, they should talk with their doctor or a trusted medical professional and not take advice from social media.” (F)

“AdventHealth released this statement late Monday:

“It is typical for hospitals to have capacity figures in the 90th percentile even in pre-COVID times, so these numbers do not cause for concern or alarm. While we have seen an increase in hospitalizations in Central Florida over the last few weeks, we still have significantly fewer COVID patients compared to what we saw during the peak. Even during the peak, at no point did we reach capacity.

It’s important to realize that capacity numbers are snapshots in time. Our hospitals are designed in such a way that spaces are flexible and expandable. We have sufficient supplies of ventilators, monitors and other specialized equipment in order to quickly convert spaces in the hospital to both standard and ICU level rooms, should they be needed. AdventHealth also has an extensive health care system in place in Central Florida so we can locate patients to the facility that best matches the level of care they need.”

Orlando Health issued a statement:

“Orlando Health is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients reflective of the spread within the community. As a system, we continuously evaluate and adjust our operations to determine the best use of our resources to accommodate the needs of our patients.””(G)

“UF Health Jacksonville broke its record for most hospitalized COVID-19 patients July 19, according to NBC News. At one point on July 19, the hospital reported 126 COVID-19 patients, up 40 percent in one day.

“We’re gaining cases at such a rapid rate we don’t really know where it’s going to stop,” Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of infection prevention, told NBC News. “We aren’t even thinking a couple of months. We’re thinking what’s going to immediately happen in the next week.”” (H)

“Hospitals in Missouri and Florida discussed how they were going to care for overflow patients with COVID-19 as infections across the U.S. increase, the Associated Press reported.

Springfield, Missouri is one of the most overwhelmed areas of the nation. Public health officials have asked the state to convert dormitories, hotels or other large spaces for the care of less seriously ill COVID-19 patients so that the city’s two hospitals can focus on the sickest.

UF Health Jacksonville in Florida is thinking about setting up tents in their parking lot to help with overflow after the cumber of their COVID-19 patients doubled to 77 over the past couple of weeks. The hospital’s director of infection prevention, Chad Neilsen, said the hospital expects to surpass its January high of 125 COVID-19 inpatients within the next few weeks.

With the highly contagious delta variant spreading rapidly, cases in the U.S. are up around 70 percent over the last week, hospital admissions have climbed about 36 percent and deaths rose by 26 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Some hospitals are reporting record or near-record patient volumes. But even for those that aren’t, this round of the pandemic is proving tougher in some ways, hospital and health officials said. Staff members are worn out, and finding traveling nurses to boost their ranks can be tough.

“I really think of it as a war and how long can you stay on the front line,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “And how many times do you want to go back for another tour of duty. Eventually, you just don’t want to do it.”

Also, many hospitals were busy even before the surge began, dealing with a backlog of cancer screenings, operations and other procedures that were put off during the winter surge to free up space and staff members, according to health care leaders.

“Eventually you have to pay the piper, and those things have now built up,” said Dr. James Lawler of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

The fear now at some hospitals is that they will have to postpone non-COVID-19 care again—and risk the potential health consequences for patients…”  (I)

“The latest city to offer a helping hand as Springfield hospitals deal with an overflow of COVID-19 patients is Columbia, Missouri.

CoxHealth sites in southwest have sent 10 COVID-19 patients over to MU Health Care in Columbia. Eric Maze with MU Health Care says their hospitals in Columbia have helped more than 20 patients transferred from Springfield and Branson since the start of June.

“During this pandemic, we are partnering with other health care institutions across the state to ensure Missouri patients are provided the best care possible,” said Maze.

The help comes as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services declares Greene County is a hot spot for new and growing COVID-19 cases, largely due to the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates.

More than 228 COVID-19 patients are getting treatment at Greene County hospitals as of Sunday, according to the health department. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department just announced Thursday that 40% of Greene County residents, who qualify based on age, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Even though Columbia is taking patients from outside its metropolitan region, their health leaders are still are making sure they manage room to provide proper care and service to their own residents in need, including their primary county in Boone County.”  (J)

“Ten patients and four employees at Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center have tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital said July 18.

Five of the 14 infections involved people who were fully vaccinated, and only unvaccinated patients are experiencing symptoms, according to PeaceHealth.

The infected patients all had links to the same patient floor. PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center has temporarily stopped new admissions to the floor and restricted hospital visitors out of an abundance of caution. All other patients on the identified floor have or are undergoing testing, the hospital said.” (K)

“A major Texas hospital system has reported its first case of the lambda COVID-19 variant, as the state reels from the rampant delta variant.

Houston Methodist Hospital, which operates eight hospitals in its network, said the first lambda case was confirmed Monday.

The lambda variant was first detected in Peru in December 2020, according to the World Health Organization and makes up 81% of COVID-19 cases sequenced in the country since April 2021, according to a June WHO report. Currently, WHO designates lambda as a “variant of interest.”…

“The lambda is the dominant variant in Peru and Peru has had a very difficult time with COVID-19. It shares mutations in common with the alpha variants, the beta, the gamma, which is the dominant variant in Brazil,” Dr. Wesley Long, medical director of Diagnostic Microbiology at Houston Methodist, told ABC News….

The lambda variant “has been associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries, with rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased COVID-19 incidence,” the WHO said in its June report. In June, the variant was detected in 29 countries.” (L)

“The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective in battling coronavirus variants than other shots, a new study suggests.

The results, published by bioRxiv but not yet peer reviewed or published in a journal, suggest that the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna could better protect against the delta and lambda strains than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The effectiveness of the vaccine in neutralizing the disease “significantly decreased” with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the study found.

Overall, the results found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be 94-95 percent effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, and Johnson & Johnson to be 66.9 percent effective.” (M)