Some hospitals are experiencing a surge in holiday-related traffic, which could lead to more COVID and staffing problems as families gather for Thanksgiving.

A potentially weekslong closure of a New York emergency department on Monday was sparked by a staffing shortage after unvaccinated health care workers were not allowed to continue work due to a state rule. Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Long Beach emergency room will redirect patients to Oceanside.

Officials in Denver said hospitals are filling up, with about 80% of those hospitalized for COVID being unvaccinated, 9News reported. Denver Health CEO Robin Wittenstein told 9News that the system is at “the brink of collapse.”

“We are here today because too many people chose not to get vaccinated even though they were eligible,” said Denver Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Bob McDonald.

A University of Iowa hospital also worries about financial hardship, as flu and COVID cases are increasing. Hospitalizations due to COVID in Dubuque County are at an all-time high, even though they’re lower than the levels that were seen a year ago when vaccines were not available.

Theresa Brennan Chief Medical Officer stated, “It is cold now and people will be indoors. And everyone’s tired. “People want human contact. And because of that, it’s likely people are going to be less strict about gathering, about masking, about distancing than they were last year.”

The cold Upper Midwest is filled with mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

Although vaccines have made family gatherings more secure, experts worry that unvaccinated individuals could be at greater risk from COVID spikes during the holidays.

For the holidays, “We would encourage people who gather to do so safely after they’ve been fully vaccinated, as we’ve been saying for months now,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the news also:

►Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett urged residents to get a COVID-19 booster shot Tuesday as cases are on the rise, with an average of 267 cases per day and about three deaths per day in the county. 

►Steve Burton, who starred on “General Hospital” for over 30 years, was let go from the show because he did not comply with a vaccine mandate, he announced on Instagram.

►Massachusetts hospitals facing limited capacity be required to reduce non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures under an emergency order following staff shortages from the pandemic.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 773,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global summaries: There have been more than 258,000,000 cases worldwide and there were 5.1 million deaths. More than 196 million Americans — 59% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘We’re looking at: COVID is transforming a long-running crisis in Michigan’s emergency medical services workers into one that has been a disaster for decades. It won’t be long before everyone dials 911, and help will arrive too late if at all. 

For the most recent news, keep checking this page. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch free newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Tennessee’s COVID law provides exemptions for transit, medical and education entities

Dozens of Tennessee health care, higher education and consulting entities applied for an official exemption last week from the state’s new law that strictly curtails businesses from enacting COVID-19 restrictions. 

This legislation was signed by Governor Lee earlier in the month. The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Gov. However, the bill included a clause for federal contractors, transport authorities, and other health care providers treating Medicare or Medicaid patients.

On Nov. 15, the Tennessee Comptroller opened accepting exemption requests and had received 76 applications by Friday. However, legitimate applications saw slightly less acceptance due to duplicates and other errant submissions. There have not yet been any denials.

Out of the total 76 submitted applications, 5 were turned down and 44 remain pending approval. 

— Melissa Brown, The Nashville Tennessean

Will there be another big wave of COVID-19 in Kentucky?

Possibly, say some local health professionals who have been watching a gradual increase in new cases. The upturn follows a sharp decrease in cases that came on the heels of a summer surge driven by the delta variant.

“I think… if you look at the entire country, we’re clearly seeing another wave,” said Dr. Jon Klein, vice-dean for research at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. 

“If you look at the places that are surging, I find it hard to find evidence that we are an exception,” said Klein, a member of a local COVID-19 task force of health officials. We have just too many unvaccinated people.”

New infections and the rate of positive cases of COVID-19 have been edging up for a few weeks after a decline in mid-October.

On Monday, Kentucky reported 44 new deaths 822 new cases — the highest Monday in four weeks. Saturday and Sunday — with 2,048 and 1,018 new cases, respectively — were also the worst Saturday and Sunday in a month. 

— Deborah Yetter and Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier-Journal

Contributing: The Associated Press



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