As Thanksgiving approaches, hospitals all across the nation are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and staffing shortfalls. Holiday gatherings may make things worse.

A potentially weekslong closure of a New York emergency department 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 will refer patients to the Oceanside emergency department.

Officials in Denver said hospitals are filling up, with about 80% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 being unvaccinated, 9News reported. Denver Health’s CEO, Dr. Robin Wittenstein said that their 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. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dubuque County is as high today as it was a year ago, before vaccinations became available.

Theresa Brennan, Chief Medical Officer, stated that it is cold and people will be staying indoors. People are looking for contact with others. 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.”

Many COVID-19-unvaccinated patients are found in hospitals throughout the Upper Midwest.

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.

You can also find the latest news here:

►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.

📈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 numbers: Over 258 Million cases, 5.1 Million deaths. More than 196 million Americans — 59% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘This is what we are reading COVID is transforming a long-running crisis in Michigan’s emergency medical services workers into one that has been a disaster for decades. What’s the wait before someone dials 911? It will take far too much time for help, if any at all. 

This page is updated regularly so you don’t miss any new information. 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 allows for exemptions to transit, educational and medical 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. 

It was signed into law by Gov. The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Gov. The bill did include a provision that could result in federal funds being cut to entities that follow the Tennessee law. This included federal contractors and transportation authorities, as well as health care providers who treat Medicare patients or Medicaid.

Tennessee’s comptroller started accepting exemption applications on Nov. 15. They received 76 before the end of this week. Some duplicate and errant submissions resulted in slightly fewer legitimate applications. Denials so far have not been common.

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

— Melissa Brown, The Nashville Tennessean

Are there any other major COVID-19 waves heading towards 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. 

Klein stated, “If I look at places that have been surging it’s hard to see evidence that we are exceptions.”

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.

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 to The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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