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Coronavirus update: FDA pressured to vaccinate children, new insight into COVID-19 deaths

Health care workers have faced increased hostility during the pandemic

Photo (c) Onurdongel - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 39,220,117 (39,076,637)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 640,281 (639,050)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 217,947,269 (217,359,371)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 4,523,447 (4,514,209)‌

FDA under growing pressure to vaccinate children

With the school year underway, children under 12 are accounting for a growing proportion of the nation’s COVID-19 patients. These young people are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine because clinical trials on children have not been completed.

More than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to urge officials to provide an update on a timeline for childhood vaccinations. Lee Savio Beers, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has also pressed the FDA to expedite vaccinations for children.

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gotlieb told CNBC that he expects approval of vaccinations for children under 12 to come by winter. “The application probably isn’t going to be submitted until some point in October,” he said.

High viral load in lungs linked to death

Why do some COVID-19 patients die and others recover with few ill effects? Doctors are still trying to figure it out, but researchers at NYU Langone Health's department of medicine have offered a new clue.

They say people who die from the virus almost always have a large amount of the coronavirus present in their lungs -- much more than people who recover or have no symptoms. On average, people dying from the disease had a viral load in their lungs that was 10 times higher than survivors.

"Our findings suggest that the body's failure to cope with the large numbers of virus infecting the lungs is largely responsible for COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic," said lead study author Dr. Imran Sulaiman. 

Health workers face increased threats from stressed patients

Health care workers say they have always been the target of angry, deranged, and emotionally charged people who confront them with verbal and physical abuse. In the age of COVID-19, they say the abuse is off the charts.

Karen Garvey, vice president of patient safety and clinical risk management at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, tells the Texas Tribune that so far this year there have been examples of “people being punched in the chest, having urine thrown on them and inappropriate sexual innuendos or behaviors in front of staff members. The verbal abuse, the name-calling, racial slurs … we’ve had broken bones, broken noses.”

While the attacks are a source of concern for doctor and nurse safety, health officials have another worry. Texas is already experiencing an acute nurse shortage. Hospital executives worry that the increase in hostility from patients and family members will cause even more nurses to quit.

Around the nation

  • Texas: The Connally Independent School District in suburban Waco has closed its five schools for at least the next few days after two teachers died of COVID-19. Natalia Chansler and David McCormick died within days of one another. Chansler was 41; McCormick was 59.

  • Virginia: Richmond is dealing with a worsening outbreak. Health officials say the city saw 211.3 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. The state said that was a 300% increase from the same period last month.

  • Tennessee: The state health department has revised its COVID-19 hospitalization records for the entire pandemic, revealing a significant undercount. The revised data shows that an extra 5,100 Tennessee residents required hospital treatment for the virus.

  • Washington: People attending the Washington State Fair this month will be required to mask up both indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. The order follows a 964% increase in reported cases over the past seven weeks. 

  • Arkansas: State health officials have expressed alarm at the rate at which the Delta variant is spreading through schools across the state. “We’re in an acute surge, and all communities statewide have very, very high levels of transmission,” Dr. Joe Thompson, CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, told KUAR Radio.

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