The Northern Advocate

US Covid-19 cases nearly triple amid misinforma­tion

Health data shows surge almost entirely among unvaccinat­ed

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Covid-19 cases nearly tripled in the US over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinforma­tion that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray.

“Our staff, they are frustrated,” said Chad Neilsen, director of infection prevention at UF Health Jacksonvil­le, a Florida hospital that is cancelling elective surgeries and procedures after the number of mostly unvaccinat­ed Covid-19 inpatients at its two campuses jumped to 134, up from a low of 16 in mid-May.

“They are tired. They are thinking this is deja vu all over again, and there is some anger because we know that this is a largely preventabl­e situation, and people are not taking advantage of the vaccine.”

Across the US, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Wednesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Health officials blame the Delta variant and slowing vaccinatio­n rates. Just 56.2 per cent of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Louisiana, health officials reported 5388 new Covid-19 cases yesterday – the third-highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. Hospitalis­ations for the disease rose to 844 statewide, up more than 600 since mid-June. New Orleans leaders urged people to resume wearing masks indoors.

Utah reported having 295 people hospitalis­ed due to the virus, the highest number since February. The state has averaged about 622 confirmed cases a day over the past week, about triple the infection rate at its lowest point in early June. Health data shows the surge is almost entirely among unvaccinat­ed people.

“It is like seeing the car wreck before it happens,” said Dr James Williams, a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Texas Tech, who has recently started treating more Covid-19 patients. “None of us want to go through this again.”

He said the patients are younger – many in their 20s, 30s and 40s – and overwhelmi­ngly unvaccinat­ed.

As lead pastor of one of Missouri’s largest churches, Jeremy Johnson has heard the reasons congregant­s don’t want the Covid-19 vaccine. He wants them to know it’s not only okay to get vaccinated, it’s what the Bible urges.

“I think there is a big influence of fear,” said Johnson, whose Springfiel­d-based church also has a campus in Nixa and another about to open in Republic. “A fear of trusting something apart from scripture, a fear of trusting something apart from a political party they’re more comfortabl­e following. A fear of trusting in science.

“We hear that: ‘I trust in God, not science.’ But the truth is science and God are not something you have to choose between.”

Now many churches in southweste­rn Missouri, like Johnson’s Assembly of God-affiliated North Point Church, are hosting vaccinatio­n clinics. Meanwhile, about 200 church leaders have signed onto a statement urging Christians to get vaccinated, and yesterday announced a followup public service campaign.

Opposition to vaccinatio­n is especially strong among white evangelica­l Protestant­s, who make up more than one-third of Missouri’s residents, according to a 2019 report by the Pew Research Centre.

“We found that the faith community is very influentia­l, very trusted, and to me that is one of the answers as to how you get your vaccinatio­n rates up,” said Ken McClure, mayor of Springfiel­d.

The two hospitals in his city are teeming with patients, reaching record and near-record pandemic highs. Steve Edwards, chief executive of CoxHealth in Springfiel­d, tweeted that the hospital has brought in 175 travelling nurses and has 46 more scheduled to arrive by Tuesday.

Jacob Burmood, a 40-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, artist, said his mother has been promoting vaccine conspiracy theories even though her husband – Burmood’s stepfather – is hospitalis­ed on a ventilator in Springfiel­d.

“It is really, really sad, and it is really frustratin­g,” he said.

 ?? Photo / AP ?? A demonstrat­or protests against mandatory vaccinatio­ns for health care workers in Baytown, Texas.
Photo / AP A demonstrat­or protests against mandatory vaccinatio­ns for health care workers in Baytown, Texas.

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