The number of COVID-19 pandemic related hospitalizations in the United States reached above 100,000 last week for the second time, overwhelming caregivers capacity in several states and spawning an urgency to vaccinate more of the eligible.
"Keeping ahead of demand is harder now than during earlier surges," reported The Washington Post on Sunday while quoting doctors, nurses and hospital executives.
"The demand is most acute in ICUs (Intensive Care Unit), which care for the most-critical patients and need highly trained medical staff," it added.
Regions with large populations unvaccinated against COVID-19 continue to be hit the hardest as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues spreading throughout the United States.
Data from USAFacts shows that there are nine states where less than 50 percent of the total population have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines as of Wednesday.
The health care system in Mississippi, is close to buckling under the latest avalanche of cases triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, reported The New York Times on Sunday.
Mississippi, as of Friday, was averaging 108 new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period, a crisis fueled by a dismal statewide vaccination rate of 37 percent and made worse by a shortage of professionals to care for the sick.
In this southern state, five rural hospitals have closed in the past decade, and 35 more are at imminent risk of closing, according to an assessment from a nonprofit health care quality agency.
"If you look around, the state's hospitals were in bad shape before there was such a thing as COVID-19," Marty Wiseman, an emeritus political science professor at Mississippi State University, ws quoted as saying.
U.S. southeastern state Alabama's State Health Officer Scott Harris issued a dire warning about the state's battle against COVID-19 on Friday.
Patients are being treated in hospital hallways and on stretchers as the state has 40 more COVID-19 patients than available staffed ICU beds, Harris was quoted by Forbes as saying.
Some 2,879 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Thursday, Harris said, including 45 pediatric patients, at least five of whom were on ventilators.
Deaths have also been rising after an expected delay and there is not enough space for all the dead bodies.
Two mobile morgues "typically held in case of a mass casualty event" have been deployed to the hard-hit counties of Mobile and Baldwin, marking the first time the state has turned to this emergency measure since the start of the pandemic, he said.
The death toll from COVID-19 in U.S. northwestern state Oregon is climbing so rapidly that two counties have requested refrigerated trucks to hold the bodies, the state said on Saturday.
So far, Tillamook County, on Oregon's northwestern coast, and Josephine County, in the southwest, have requested the trucks, said Bobbi Doan, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw wrote in his request to the state that the county's sole funeral home "is now consistently at or exceeding their capacity" of nine bodies.
IMPORTANCE OF VACCINATION
The U.S. Open spectators must show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend matches, a change made less than 72 hours before the tennis tournament starts.
The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) announced on Friday that the New York City mayor's office decided to require proof of vaccination to go into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main arena at the National Tennis Center, in Queens, New York City.
The USTA then opted to extend that rule to cover all ticket-holders who are 12 and older and enter the grounds during the two-week Grand Slam tournament that begins on Monday. The event is returning to 100 percent capacity after all fans were banned from attending a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Vaccination has been now grabbing ever more attention in the United States, especially after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week that an unvaccinated elementary school teacher in California infected more than half of her students with COVID-19, ultimately resulting in a community-wide outbreak in Marin County.
As U.S. schools reopen in tandem, the outbreak "highlights the importance of vaccinating school staff members who are in close indoor contact with children ineligible for vaccination," said the CDC in its report.
"The outbreak, which took place in May, highlights the stakes surrounding a debate across the U.S. among school districts considering implementing stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus, like universal masking in schools," reported news website Axios on Saturday.
DEBATE ON VACCINATION FOR CHILDREN
Intense debate has also been swirling around vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, though none of the widely available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States have yet been authorized for use in people under the age of 12.
Mandating COVID-19 vaccines for children to attend school in person is a "good idea" due to a strong benefit-risk ratio, the chief medical adviser for the White House Anthony Fauci told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
"The idea of mandating a vaccine for children once it's available to them has become more prominent in recent months, as the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant has caused a spike in cases, especially among younger Americans," said the CNN.
Also on Sunday, Fauci told ABC's "This Week" that public health officials are sticking with the recommendation that people get booster shots eight months after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but that could change based on reviewing the data.
As of Sunday afternoon, a total of 367,638,780 vaccine doses have been administered across the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University data.