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Coronavirus update: Cases rise in nursing homes

Drug companies are struggling to develop new vaccines

Elderly person with care nurse
Photo (c) Morsa Images - Getty Images
COVID-19 ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 90,977,761 (90,739,623)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 1,028,819 (1,027,924)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 573,920,711 (572,665,174)

Total ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 6,393,783 (6,389,649)‌

New COVID-19 cases on the rise in nursing homes

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago, staff and residents of America’s nursing homes were the first to suffer outbreaks. Health officials now say nursing homes are seeing a new increase in cases.

AARP reports that one in 35 nursing home residents in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 in June. That’s a 27% increase from May. The death rate also nearly doubled, rising to 0.07 deaths per 100 residents.

“This is a level of cases that’s comparable to what we saw during the first COVID summer in 2020,” said Ari Hauser, a senior analyst for AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

Drug companies struggle to improve vaccines

The current COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the original strain of the virus, but they offer less protection against the variants and subvariants that are currently causing most infections. The White House has urged drug companies to come up with more effective versions of their vaccines.

“The vaccines we have are terrific, but we can do better than terrific,” said Ashish Jha, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator.

But according to Science Magazine, drugmakers face challenges. Not only is funding for new research tight, but the sense of urgency surrounding the pandemic has dissipated. While current vaccines are much less effective at blocking infections, infections in vaccinated people tend to be much less severe.

Sensory loss can last for months

One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is a loss of taste and smell. It's usually just a temporary condition, but it can last for a very long time for millions of people who suffer from a condition called “long COVID.”

An analysis published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) found that about 5% of former COVID-19 patients – about 27 million people globally –couldn’t smell or taste for months after recovering from the virus.

The analysis looked at 18 previous studies of sensory loss around the world. About three-quarters of those affected by a loss of taste or smell from COVID-19 were able to regain those senses within 30 days of recovery.

Around the nation

  • Florida: During the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida enjoyed a boost in its population. People moved to the state for a number of reasons, including fewer pandemic restrictions. The Demographic Estimating Conference reports that the state’s population is still growing, but it has slowed from its pandemic peak.

  • Pennsylvania: Only four counties are considered to have a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest analysis. Cases have jumped in the last week in Mercer, Fayette, Washington, and Montour counties, and residents have been asked to mask up indoors.

  • Oregon: State health officials say hospitals are under increasing stress from COVID-19 caseloads, even though cases remain well below their pandemic peak. “They are extremely stressed and doing everything they can to provide quality care for everyone across our state,” state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said at a news briefing.

  • Minnesota: With school starting in just a few weeks, public health officials say only 7% of Minnesota's eligible preschool-aged children have received their first shots. The vaccination rate was sharply higher when young children first became eligible.

  • New York: Hospital admissions for COVID-19 treatment have soared in New York City. The city has recorded the highest admission rate since mid-February. Across the state, the hospitalization rate per 100,000 surged by 50% in the last 30 days, with nearly 2,800 COVID-19 patients being admitted as of Wednesday.

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