Pa. hospital demand this week down slightly from peak

Covid statistics as of Dec. 31, 2020

Hospital demand in Pennsylvania is easing, if only slightly, after hitting peak levels around Christmas.

The state Department of Health on Thursday reported 5,677 COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals, with 1,205 in intensive care and 692 on ventilators.

On Dec. 22, the figures were 6,151 admissions, 1,236 in intensive care and 772 on ventilators. 

Intensive care unit occupancy over the last 14 days was 87.5%, with an average of 587.9 beds available from 4,725 in hospitals across the state. However, that is still an improvement over the same report from Dec. 21, when the 14-day average of available beds was 571.1 (about 88% occupancy).

Rolling 14-day averages for hospital admissions and ventilator use have also shown a slight decline since peak demand. The admission average was 6,004.2 Thursday, down from 6,105 on Christmas Day. Ventilator use average was 732.5 Thursday, a decrease from 747 Monday.

The long-term trend is still well above rates prior to the current pandemic wave, the Health Department said Thursday. The rolling 14-day hospitalization average has increased by almost 5,500 since late September.

Hospitals have administered 115,291 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines since the medication arrived in the state two weeks ago.

California reaches 25,000 COVID-19 deaths

California has surpassed 25,000 deaths from coronavirus, the third state to reach the number.

New York has nearly 38,000 deaths and Texas has more than 27,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

A surge has swamped hospitals with COVID-19 patients in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. Hospitals are housing patients in hallways, conference rooms, a cafeteria and gift shops. Makeshift hospitals are being set up in tents, arenas and schools.

This week, Los Angeles County had 274 deaths in 24 hours for a record toll of 10,056 deaths. The nation’s most populated county has about 40% of California’s virus deaths.

Tenn. has most cases per capita

Tennessee ends the year ranked first in coronavirus cases per capita.

There were 1,426 cases per 100,000 Tennesseans over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the nation for new cases per capita, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University.

Those numbers coupled with delays in the state’s virus vaccination rollout are causing health leaders to stress diligence in social distancing and mask wearing in 2021.

Tennessee began allowing people 75 and older to be immunized Thursday and resulted in long lines.

NYC aims to vaccinate 1 million in Jan.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 1 million residents with the coronavirus vaccine in January.

The mayor noted Thursday that meeting the target would require outside cooperation and the city dramatically increasing access to the vaccine. Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi says officials want to double citywide access points to at least 250 sites. Those would include hospitals, community health centers and urgent care clinics.

The city also plans to double its 150,000-dose-a-week capacity during January. The city has vaccinated 88,000 people since doses became available Dec. 14.

 CDC releases infection study results

People exposed to a coronavirus patient who stay well for 10 days still have a 7% chance of getting sick, but a U.S. government recommendation on shorter quarantines is not changing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday published results of a study of 185 households in Tennessee and Wisconsin where a person in the house had the coronavirus.

The study shows 7% of household contacts who did not have symptoms and tested negative through 10 days of quarantine went on to have symptoms and a positive test within the next four days.

The CDC says people who leave quarantine before 14 days should avoid close contact and wear masks when around others.

The CDC in early December shortened its quarantine recommendation from 14 days to 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test result. At the time, health officials said shorter quarantines would get more people to comply.

The study is based on households in Nashville, Tennessee, and Marshfield, Wisconsin. People in the study kept track of their symptoms and collected nasal swab samples for testing.

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