COVID-19 Live Updates: U.S. States Ration Healthcare, Global Cases Rebound

Live Updates

Western U.S. states continue to be hit badly by the Delta COVID variant, with major hospitals beginning to ration the services they provide as virus patients take over multiple floors and soldiers are brought in to support staff.

In Idaho, public health leaders announced statewide rationing of care services, with only emergency treatments available. Similar measures are in place in individual hospital areas across Alaska and Montana. Across the globe, South Korea is in the grips of a major COVID wave, China has vaccinated over one billion of its citizens, and several European countries are introducing COVID passes.

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Man left with $80k hospital bill after COVID treatment

Jim Sweeney spent more than 130 days in hospital has been left with the astronomical bill - despite having medical insurance.

The 63-year-old, from Nevada, tested positive for COVID-19 last November and was admitted to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena Campus in Henderson, before quickly being moved into intensive care and being placed on a ventilator, according to a fundraiser started by his son, Scott Sweeney. Jim Sweeney was on the ventilator until mid-February and remained in hospital and a rehab center until April.

His son claims that while the hospital he was treated in was covered by the insurance plan, the doctors he was treated by were not in the network, despite him having no choice over who saw him.

FULL STORY: Man With Insurance Left With $80K Hospital Bill After COVID Battle

FDA experts to decide on Pfizer booster shots

Scientists inside and outside the government have been divided in recent days over the need for boosters and who should get them, and the World Health Organization has strongly objected to richer nations giving out a third round of shots when poorer countries don't have enough vaccine for their first.

The panel, made up of outside experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration, will debate research which suggests immunity levels in those who have been vaccinated wane over time and boosters can reverse that.

They are scheduled to vote on this question on Friday: Does the evidence show that a Pfizer booster would be safe and effective for people 16 and older? In the event of a yes vote, the FDA is expected to quickly approve boosters for Pfizer's shot.

India vaccinates record number to mark PM's birthday

Over 20 million doses of COVID vaccine were administered today as part of a huge vaccine push to coincide with Narendra Modi's 71st birthday.

India has been struggling with the rollout since the country was hit by waves of COVID variants - particularly Delta - earlier this year.

But now, more than half of eligible people have had at least one dose and 20 percent are fully vaccinated.

Sarah Palin not vaccinated because she is a 'white, common sense conservative'

The former vice-presidential candidate revealed on Thursday that she has not been vaccinated against the virus and highlighted immunity gained from previously having the disease.

Palin, who was the Republican governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009, appeared on Fox News' Gutfeld! and discussed her vaccine status during a conversation about CNN host Don Lemon, who said it was time to "start shaming" unvaccinated people.

One, because the waitress never came back to ask me if I'm ready for that shot. But two, because I do believe in science and the Fauci-ism of the day back then was, if you've had COVID—I've had COVID—well then, Mother Nature was creating an immunity.

Frenchman fined €10,000 for depicting Emmanuel Macron as Hitler

Michel-Ange Flori, 62, was found guilty of "insulting" the French President during a protest against COVID-19 restrictions in the country in July.

He was fined the equivalent of $12,000 and told he had shown "an obvious willingness to do harm" by showing Macron in a Nazi uniform.

France officially scrapped laws about "offense to the President" in 2013 but the head of state is still protected against "insult", although cases rarely go to trial.

WHO boss warns of health "brain drain" in Lebanon amid COVID

Seeking to highlight the "serious situation" in the country, which is facing a virus crisis.

Health workers are leaving, nurses are leaving, doctors are leaving. It is very serious.

Dr. Tedros warned that patients are not receiving the medication they need, with health professionals forced to scout out pharmacies for remaining supplies.

There is a shortage of medicines - even the doctors we saw they couldn't get the medicines in town.

WHO chiefs hold media briefing amid warnings over vaccination rates

LIVE: Media briefing with @DrTedros from #Lebanon https://t.co/3x1UlK7cTI

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) September 17, 2021

Only 21 ICU beds left in Columbus, Ohio

The critical situation is forcing hospital leaders to again sound the alarm on surging COVID-19 infections as units in the Columbus region reach "critical capacity".

Urgent care centers are similarly swamped and hundreds of patients are waiting in emergency departments for beds to open up so they can be admitted, wrote Mount Carmel CEO Lorraine Lutton, OhioHealth CEO Dr. Steve Markovich, Nationwide Children's Hospital CEO Tim Robinson, and Dr. Andrew Thomas, Chief Clinical Officer at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

In Franklin County alone, just 10 of 562 ICU beds were available as of yesterday and 11 of the county's 2,276 general medical or surgical beds were open, said Jeff Klingler, president, and CEO of the Central Ohio Hospital Council.

These numbers are really sobering. They're like nothing I've ever seen before.

COVID passes in Wales from October

People in Wales will have to show a Covid-19 pass to confirm their vaccine status, or a negative test, to enter nightclubs and attend large events, the Welsh Government has just announced.

It comes as neighboring England scrapped plans to do the same "vaccine passport" scheme despite infection rates remaining high in the whole of the U.K.

First Minister Mark Drakeford previously said that it was something the government was seriously considering for large events but added there were "lots of practical and ethical issues to think about".

Floridian, 24, encourages people to get vaccinated after emergency surgery

In March, Blake Bargatze caught COVID after attending a concert in his home state of Florida, he told the Maryland-based news station WBAL-TV. He was unvaccinated, and although he wore a mask, he didn't anticipate the large crowds.

There were way too many [people] and I got really hot, so I took [my mask] off, which probably wasn't the wisest decision on my part. I had a really bad headache and body aches and after that, I started having a really high fever—went from 102 to 103 and up to 104 [degrees].

He was admitted to the hospital on April 10, where he was intubated. His mother, Cheryl Nuclo, then had him flown to a hospital in Atlanta, where she lived. Doctors told him his prognosis wasn't good.

FULL STORY: 24-Year-Old Given Option of Double Lung Transplant or Death After Severe COVID Diagnosis

Long COVID rarely lasts beyond 12 weeks in children and teens - new research

Findings from a new study carried out by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia suggest the debilitating condition, which sees people finding it difficult to breathe, is less of a concern among younger age groups than in adults.

The review found that existing studies on Long COVID in children and teenagers have major limitations, with some not showing a difference in symptoms between those who have been infected with the virus and those who have not.

New Zealand extends Australia travel restrictions until November

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues with her government's zero-COVID strategy by further suspending quarantine-free travel.

15 new cases were announced yesterday - much lower than most days last month but still too high for the government to loosen restrictions.

"We have made great progress to contain our current outbreak and are working hard to ease restrictions next week. Reopening quarantine-free travel with Australia at this point could put those gains at risk," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

'Exceptionally challenging times': Scottish hospitals and care homes deal with COVID surge

These are exceptionally challenging times for #carehomes in Scotland. We have the highest number of #Covid outbreaks since Feb and sadly the highest number of deaths since March. Please do all you can to support your local care home residents and workforce.

— Donald Macaskill (@DrDMacaskill) September 17, 2021

10 states face healthcare rationing in coming weeks

Intensive care unit beds are filling up to between 90 percent and 100 percent capacity in some places and many hospitals are being forced to consider enacting "crisis standards of care", considered a last resort system of prioritizing patients who are most likely to survive in a disaster situation and rationing the dwindling hospital resources available.

Idaho is the only state so far to enact a statewide "crisis standards of care" so far - but Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Texas, and Arkansas all have 10 percent or less of their ICU beds available.

READ MORE: Hospitals in 10 States Are at or Nearing Crisis Levels Since Surge in Delta Variant

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Several U.S. states are deciding whether to ration healthcare from next week as the number of COVID patients overwhelms their ability to provide other services. Elsewhere, thousands of military personnel across the country are now assisting hospital staff.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Friday for all the latest.