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COVID On The Rise In UK As More Patients In Hospitals Than In March

KEY POINTS

  • England’s emergency nightingale hospitals will be used again in the north of the country to provide extra capacity for local health services amid a steep rise in COVID-19 infections, The Guardian reported
  • Jonathan Van Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, argued that infection rates are rising fast in northern England due to the fact that the COVID infection rate never dropped as far as it did in the south during the summer
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented new COVID-19 restrictions for specific England regions, where infection rates are spiking

COVID-19 admissions are rising in the U.K., with a growing number of elderly people needing urgent treatment. According to the Guardian, England’s emergency Nightingale hospitals will be used again in the north of the country to provide extra capacity for local health services amid a steep rise in infections.

Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said that temporary hospital establishments used at the height of the pandemic will be reopening and can accept patients within a few weeks. 

This is the first time any of England’s seven Nightingale hospitals have been brought back into service after being placed on standby as infection rates dipped during the summer months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented new COVID-19 restrictions for specific England regions, where infection rates are spiking. 

Jonathan Van Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, argued that infection rates are rising fast in northern England due to the fact that the COVID infection rate never dropped as far as it did in the south during the summer.

Powis, speaking alongside Van Tam at a press conference, said that there were now more coronavirus patients in England hospitals than before national restrictions were introduced on March 23.

Hospitals in the northwest and northeast had seen a significant increase in COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care in the past four weeks, he said. “If infections continue to rise, in four more weeks they could be treating more patients than they were at the peak of the first wave.”

“Pandemic fatigue” has set in across Europe, with France and Spain seeing a surge. Madrid has become a COVID hot spot.

In the U.S., 54% of rural counties are seeing a sharp uptick in COVID cases, according to the Daily Yonder, which covers rural America.

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HHS Secretary Azar says U.S. could have enough doses for every American by March

Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), wears a protective mask during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Azar is appearing before the committee to testify on the coronavirus crisis and the Trump administration’s portrayal of Covid-19 deaths. Photographer: Michael A. McCoy/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday the U.S. could have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for every American as early as March, a more optimistic estimate than President Donald Trump has publicly said.

The Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program Operation Warp Speed expects to have up to 100 million doses by the end of the year, Azar said during a keynote speech at the Goldman Sachs Healthcare virtual event on the coronavirus. That’s “enough to cover especially vulnerable populations,” he said. 

“We project having enough for every American who wants a vaccine by March to April 2021,” he added. 

Because of the pandemic, U.S. health officials have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.

Azar said the U.S. is currently manufacturing doses for all six potential vaccines backed by the U.S. government across more than 23 manufacturing facilities. That includes vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which are all in late-stage testing. The U.S. is also obtaining the needles, syringes, bottles and other supplies needed for immunizations, he said. 

He touted the U.S. government’s partnership with medical supply company McKesson, which was tapped as the main distributor for Covid-19 vaccines.

“We are immensely pleased with our success so far,” he said. 

Trump has repeatedly insisted a vaccine could be authorized for emergency use as early as October with enough vaccine doses for every American by April. 

Azar said Thursday that U.S. health officials believe authorizing a vaccine for emergency use is appropriate in “only specific circumstances,” where there are “sufficient amounts of vaccine already manufactured.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined a sweeping plan last month to make vaccines for Covid-19 available for free to all Americans. In the plan, the CDC said it anticipates a coronavirus vaccine will initially be granted an emergency use authorization before a full formal approval.

Much of the guidance, but not all, described in the plan will overlap with many routine activities for immunizations and pandemic influenza planning, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said at the time.

When larger quantities of vaccine become available, the CDC said, there will be two simultaneous objectives: to provide widespread access to vaccination and to ensure high uptake in target populations, particularly those who are at high risk of death or complications from Covid-19.

Azar’s comments come as infectious disease experts and scientists fear a Covid-19 vaccine will be distributed before it’s been adequately tested. 

Earlier this week,

Miami-Dade students return to class for 1st time since March

MIAMI (AP) — More than 22,000 students are returning to classrooms in Miami-Dade County on Monday for the first time since schools shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students are the first to return to the Miami-Dade Public School district under a staggered reopening plan. Another 40,000 students are expected to return to classrooms on Wednesday, with yet another group starting on Friday. Another group of students will continue distance learning from their homes. Miami-Dade is the nation’s fourth largest district, with 345,000 students.

The school board originally wanted to push the reopening back to mid-October but settled on Monday’s start date after Florida’s education secretary threatened to withhold state funding. Miami-Dade County’s daily positive test result rate on Sunday was over 5% during four of the previous seven days.

School officials prepared campuses for social distancing, installed air filters and arranged for school nurses and “medically trained staff” to be present at each school. Each student is expected to receive a thermometer when returning to school.

Many teachers and parents have expressed concern over the system’s readiness to return to brick-and-mortar schools, including student-teacher ratios, sanitation supplies and masks. District officials say they are well prepared for students to return.


In neighboring Broward County, which boasts the country’s sixth largest district, school officials are preparing for a staggered reopening beginning on Friday.

South Florida has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus, but is complying with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to put the entire state into Phase 3 of his coronavirus recovery plan, with only case-by-case exceptions to his call for all businesses and restaurants to reopen.

Florida on Sunday had more than 1,800 new reported coronavirus cases and more than 40 new related deaths. Florida now has had 716,459 total cases of the virus, and 14,845 related deaths.

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