COVID-19 Live Updates: American Hospitals Begin Rationing Healthcare, Schools Face Delta Variant Surge

Live Updates

Public health leaders have enacted "crisis standards of care," which allows hospitals in Idaho overwhelmed by the Delta variant of COVID-19 to focus on emergency treatment only. Hospitals in several states are nearing critical points as ICU beds fill up.

Fears are also growing about the Mu variant, which was found earlier this week to be present in all U.S. states except Nebraska, and its possible resistance to current vaccines. Over 300,000 new COVID cases were reported Tuesday, the vast majority of them the Delta variant, with daily deaths now averaging around 1,500 for the first time since March.

Meanwhile, the debate of mask and vaccine mandates in schools continues as more school employees across the country die from coronavirus weeks after classes began in August.

A Florida ruled that schools can issue mask requirements while Governor Ron DeSantis' appeals case continues in the courts.

The World Health Organization called for greater vaccine equity Wednesday, asking higher-income countries with sufficient COVID-19 vaccine supply to donate doses to lower-income countries with low inoculation rates.

"There's been a lot of talk about vaccine equity, but too little action," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "We don't want any more promises, we just want the vaccines."

Dr. Tedros also urged countries to delay the roll-out of COVID-19 booster shots until more at-risk people around the world receive at least one shot.

"I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with leftovers," he said.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

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COVID-19 Testing
A festival attendee gets a rapid COVID-19 test during 2021 Made In America at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 05, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over 300,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported over Labor Day weekend. Lisa Lake//Getty Images for Roc Nation

Crowd at school board meeting heckle student after he says his grandmother died from COVID-19

During a Tennessee school board meeting to discuss mask mandates in classrooms, a group of people laughed at a student after he shared that his grandmother died from COVID-19.

"If I get COVID, I'm going to bring it to my family and I talk to my grandparents a lot," the student said from Rutherford County. "They're higher risk than me. So I don't want to give them COVID.

"This time last year, my grandmother, who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County school system, died of COVID because someone wasn't wearing a mask," he continued.

Two women behind the student are seen rolling their eyes and laughing while other adults heckled the student and told him the "shut up."

READ MORE: "Women Laugh as Student Discusses Grandmother's COVID Death During School Mask Debate"

COVID-19 is leading cause of death for law enforcement

COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the line of duty, The Associated Press reported.

According to data compiled from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 71 law enforcement officials in the U.S. died from COVID-19 during the first six months of 2021 compared to 76 in the same time period in 2020

The total figure for coronavirus-related deaths in 2020 was 241, which makes the virus the major reason for fatalities among law enforcement.

READ MORE: "COVID Now Leading Cause of Death Among Law Enforcement"

Spain authorizes COVID-19 booster shot for the immunocompromised

Spain has authorized the use of a COVID-19 booster shot for its vulnerable population, The Associated Press reported.

The additional dose is only available for people with suppressed immune systems, such as people who received an organ transplant.

The Spanish government's board of experts said it was too early to recommend booster shots for the general population.

Health Minister Carolina Darias said authorities will be studying other groups that could benefit from a third shot.

This comes after the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) called on high-income countries to hold off on administering booster shots until at-risk people in low-income countries received at least one shot.

READ MORE: "WHO Chief 'Appalled' Countries Considering Booster Shots as Others Face Shortages"

COVID-19 case and death rates remain high as summer comes to an end

As the summer comes to an end, the United States is reporting daily COVID-19 death and case rates at levels not seen since the beginning of 2021.

The U.S. recorded 26,800 deaths and more than 4.2 million infections in August, the Associated Press reported. The number of monthly positive cases was the fourth-highest total since the start of the pandemic.

While the U.S. is well below all-time peaks of COVID-19 daily cases and deaths, the figures have spiked in recent months.

The U.S. is averaging over 150,000 new cases per day, levels not seen since January, according to the AP. Deaths are close to 1,500 per day, up more than a third since late August.

More than 650,000 have died in the U.S. since the pandemic began. Some projections estimate that number will climb to 750,000 by December 1.

Kentucky hospitals may soon need to ration medical care, governor says

Kentucky Governor said the state is approaching the point of needing to make tough choices about rationing medical care due to the severity of the COVID-19 spread.

"We are in a really tough place, Kate" Governor Andy Beshear told CNN Wednesday.

He said the state called in FEMA teams and the National Guard to deploy nursing students across the state.

Last week was our worst week ever for newly reported cases of COVID-19. Our hospitals continue to be pushed to the brink. One bad week could cause hospitals to quickly run out of ICU beds. 1/2

— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) September 8, 2021

"We've had more people test positive than ever before," he said. "We have more people in the hospital because of COVID than ever before. We are at record numbers or near record numbers we set just days ago of people in the ICU or on a ventilator," the Beshear said.

When asked whether doctors and hospitals were at a point where tough choices needed to be made about rationing care, Beshear said "At the moment we are still able to move patients from one hospital to another but we are right at, or quickly approaching that point."

Beshear said more than two-thirds of hospitals have critical staffing shortages and ventilators had to be delivered to hospitals around the state that "almost never have to use" them.

"It's not just big urban hospitals that that fill up, its regional hospitals that typically don't treat incredibly sick patients who are filled with those sick patients," he said.

Florida judge rules against DeSantis, allows school mask mandates

A Florida judge ruled that schools can issue mask mandates while the governor's appeal continues to play out in the courts.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled in favor of the Florida parents who brought the lawsuit against the state, asking that the court strike down a stay that kept the governor's school mask mandate ban in effect while the court battle continued.

DeSantis appealed Cooper's earlier decision that issued a permanent injunction on Florida's school mask mandate ban, saying state officials had overstepped their authority and that the ban did not comply with state law.

Effective immediately, the state must stop its enforcement of a mask ban, ending any sanctions levied against schools that implemented mask requirements.

Cooper said during the hearing that he set aside the stay because he did not believe the state would be harmed if the ban was prohibited. Unvaccinated children, however, face serious heath threats from the delta variant and can be protected with masks.

"Based on the evidence I've heard, there's no harm to the state if the stay is set aside," Cooper said.

"It's undisputed that the Delta variant is far more infectious than the prior to their prior version of the virus, and that children are more susceptible to the Delta variant than to the form from a year ago," Cooper added.

"In particular for children under 12, they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, there's really only one or two means to protect them against the virus as either stay at home, or mask."

West Virginia sets record for COVID-19 patients in the ICU

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said hospitals across the state "are still overwhelmingly inundated" with COVID-19 patients, most of whom are unvaccinated.

"For the most part, our whole state is red and orange," Justice said on Wednesday, referring to the state's COVID-19 county map.

With 813 people hospitalized, West Virginia set an all-time record with 252 COVID-19 patients in the ICU and 132 people on ventilators Wednesday, Justice said.

The state has 68 school outbreaks in 31 counties, while 10 schools and the entire Clay County closed due to the virus.

West Virginia currently has 22,215 active COVID-19 cases and "leads the nation in the acceleration of new COVID cases," Justice said.

Justice encouraged everyone, especially young people, to get vaccinated.

"I've told you over and over and over that the only way in the world, the only weapon that we have to fight back with, is the vaccinations," he said.

"The vaccine can't hurt you for crying out loud, so why not take it," he added.

COVID passes to be introduced in Switzerland from Monday

People will need to show a COVID status certificate to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centres, the government ordered, in a move to relieve pressure on hospitals dealing with a fourth wave of infections.

The government last week stopped short of the move - set to last four months initially - amid a heated public debate over whether it was a step too far. But cabinet ministers decided earlier to push ahead with the plan as hospitals become overwhelmed by virus patients.

Health Minister Alain Berset told a news conference:

The situation remains unstable with more than 3,500 cases today. The alternative is to close everything, and we will do our utmost to avoid that.

Most COVID-19 cases in Norway are among children, young people

Over half of COVID-19 cases in Norway are among children and young people.

Official Norwegian figures show 54 percent of coronavirus cases are among children between ages 6 to 12.

The full COVID-19 vaccine is available for children between 16 and 17 years old and those ages 12 to 15 with severe underlying conditions. Norway offers one dose of the vaccine to children ages 12 and 15.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said 89 percent of those over 18 had received their first shot and 77 percent had the second shot.

The figures are much lower for teens.

For those ages 16 to 17, 56 percent have received the first dose and 11 percent have received the second dose. Only 3 percent of children ages 12 to 15 have received the first shot and a mere 0.4 percent have received the second shot.

WHO director calls for delay of COVID-19 booster shots

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General is calling for countries to wait on administering COVID-19 booster shots until more at-risk people around the world are fully vaccinated.

In August, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a global moratorium on booster doses until the end of September in order to prioritize vaccinating the most at-risk people around the world are yet to receive their first dose.

"There has been little change in the global situation since then, so today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year, to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population," Dr. Tedros said during a WHO news conference Wednesday.

He said third doses may be necessary for the most at-risk populations, including "immunocompromised people who did not respond sufficiently to their initial doses or are no longer producing antibodies."

"But for now, we do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated," Dr. Tedros added.

Low-income countries should not be "a second or third priority," WHO Director says

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said G7 countries should be sharing their COVID-19 doses with low-income countries.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) found that G7 countries now have enough COVID-19 vaccines for all their adults and teenagers and to offer booster doses to at-risk groups, Dr. Tedros said.

"When I read this, I was appalled," Dr. Tedros said during a WHO news conference Wednesday. "In reality, manufacturers and high-income countries have long had the capacity to not only vaccinate their own priority groups, but to simultaneously support the vaccination of those same groups in all countries."

Dr. Tedros said WHO called for vaccine equity to be a priority "since the beginning" and "not after the richest countries have been taken care of."

"Low and lower-middle-income countries are not the second or third priority," he said. "Their health workers, older people and other at-risk groups have the same right to be protected."

"I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world's poor should be satisfied with leftovers," he added.

Pro-China misinformation campaign ramps up efforts to spread COVID fake news

The social media campaign has expanded to new languages and platforms and even tried to get people to show up to protests in the U.S., reports Reuters.

Experts at security company FireEye and Google said the operation was identified in 2019 as running hundreds of accounts in English and Chinese aimed at discrediting the Hong Kong democracy movement, with the group broadening its mission from Twitter, Facebook, and Google to dozens of sites around the world.

It suggests Chinese interests have made a deeper commitment to propaganda techniques used by Russia for several years. Some of the new accounts are on networks used predominantly in countries that have not previously been significant Chinese propaganda targets, such as Argentina.

False information about COVID has been a major focus, the companies report, with accounts on social networking sites vKontakte, LiveJournal, and elsewhere claiming that the novel virus strain emerged in the U.S. before China and that it was developed by the U.S. military.

WHO director calls on high-income countries to support COVID-19 vaccine equity

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on high-income countries to commit to COVID-19 vaccine equity by sharing their resources with low-income countries.

WHO set a global target for every country to vaccinate at least 10 percent of its population by the end of the month and at least 40 percent by the end of this year.

During a press conference Wednesday, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said most high-income countries have reached these targets.

"Almost 90 percent of high-income countries have reached the 10 percent target and more than 70 percent have reached the 40 percent target," Dr. Ghebreyesus said. However, "not a single low-income country has reached either target."

He said it is not the fault of low-income countries, as vaccine manufacturers prioritized sending doses to "rich countries willing to pay top dollar."

"There's been a lot of talk about vaccine equity, but too little action," he said. "High-income countries have promised to donate over one billion doses, but less than 15 percent of those doses have materialized."

"We don't want any more promises," he added. "We just want the vaccines."

COVAX to get almost 600 million fewer vaccine doses than expected

Gavi, the group which runs the scheme to get COVID shots to poorer countries, said it was "unacceptable" that by the end of 2021 hundreds of millions would be left without their first dose.

It expects to have access to 1.425 billion doses of vaccine this year instead of the two billion forecast in July.

COVAX has already achieved significant progress: more than US$10 billion has been raised; legally-binding commitments for up to 4.5 billion doses of vaccine; 240 million doses have been delivered to 139 countries in just six months. Yet the global picture of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable. Only 20 percent of people in low- and lower-middle-income countries have received a first dose of vaccine compared to 80 percent in high- and upper-middle income countries.

COVID-19 hospitalizations increase in Germany among the young and unvaccinated

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is rapidly increasing in Germany, as the head of Germany's disease control agency warns "the pandemic is not over yet."

The number of ICU patients has nearly doubled to 1,300 amid rising infection rates in Germany, Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute told The Associated Press.

Most patients are younger than earlier in the pandemic and the majority are unvaccinated, Wieler said.

READ MORE: "Germany ICU Patients Double as COVID Hospitalizations Surge, Most Younger and Unvaccinated"

COVID-19 cases in South Korea spike as pandemic restriction fatigue grows

South Korean officials are worried about dwindling COVID-19 vigilance amid pandemic restrictions after the country reported more than 2,000 new cases Wednesday.

There were 2,050 cases reported, making Wednesday the sixth time the daily increase was over 2,000 in the span of a month.

"We're taking this as a very dangerous sign," Park Hyang, a senior official in the Health Ministry, said during a news conference in Seoul. "We urge residents of the Seoul metropolitan area to be especially careful. The virus is spreading on a large scale and infections are appearing anytime and anywhere."

Hyang said people are traveling more amid frustration and exhaustion over pandemic restrictions, as highway traffic, credit card usage and other indicators of activity and movement have increased.

Cases are expected to increase later this month during Chuseok, a three-day national holiday.

North Carolina schools without mask mandates see a spike in COVID-19 cases

Public health officials in North Carolina are reporting 170 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in schools or child care facilities.

School districts without mask mandates are seeing a greater spread of the virus, according to the Associated Press.

One in eight of the more than 41,000 students in the Union County Public School District are under quarantine after the district voted down mask requirements in August.

More than 5,200 students were placed under quarantine after 337 students tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Wake County Public School System requires masks. Despite the Wake County district being four times larger than the Union Country district, there are less than a fourth of the number of students quarantined.

Less than 1,300 of the more than 161,000 students in the Wake County district were quarantined last week, according to district data.

September 7, 2021 COVID-19 NC Update:

4,124 Newly Reported Cases
3,779 Currently Hospitalized
14,831 Total Deaths in NC
13.7% Daily Percent Positive pic.twitter.com/lgMxoxxsNd

— NCDHHS (@ncdhhs) September 7, 2021

13 employees from Miami-Dade County Public Schools have died from COVID-19

More than a dozen staffers from Miami-Dade County Public Schools have died from COVID-19 since the new school year started in August.

The 13 employees who died include four teachers, one security monitor, one cafeteria worker and seven school bus drivers, CNN reported.

United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats told CNN Wednesday that all 13 staffers were African American and were unvaccinated.

She said the situation is "very tragic and very heartbreaking," and said students, faculty and staff in the community are all grieving.

"It's just really devastating, and to see the trends, to see that this is happening in African American communities, to see that it's unvaccinated people, you know, we just, you know, we're at a loss for words," she told CNN.

According to the district's COVID-19 dashboard, 147 students and 186 employees have tested positive for the virus since August 13. The database does not report deaths.

Hernandez-Mats said the union is encouraging members to get vaccinated, including organizing pop-up vaccination sites Tuesday for Miami-Dade employees.

Mu variant could be 'squelched' by Delta, professor tells Newsweek

Professor John P. Moore, an expert in microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, said he believes the slow spread and unlikely takeoff of the Mu variant, which is now present in every state except Nebraska, means it could likely disappear altogether.

Mu has some troubling mutations, but it's not spreading widely in the States. I've seen very few studies on its properties because it's not been widely studied yet. The key thing is, it's just not spreading much.

Moore pointed to the U.K. as an example, saying that when Delta got a foothold in the country in late 2020 the Alpha variant was almost completely dominated.

READ MORE: Delta COVID Variant May 'Squelch' Mu in 'Survival of the Fittest' Struggle

School board descends into violence after parents vote for mask mandate

According to KMBC News, several fights erupted in the parking lot of Pleasant Hill High School in Cass County, Missouri, after the board voted unanimously in favor of making masks a requirement on site.

Reporter Brian Johnson said "people were actually throwing fists and hitting each other" during the ensuing chaos, which only dissipated once local sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene.

Several officers were reportedly called out to the school to deal with the disturbance, while at least one man was filmed being led away in handcuffs.

READ MORE: Fight Breaks Out After School Board Votes in Favor of Mask Mandate

Joe Rogan hits out at critics over COVID treatment, insists multiple doctors told him to take dewormer

In his first podcast since recovering from the virus, he railed against those who condemned him for taking ivermectin.

The podcasting giant was back on his show on Tuesday where he spoke about his experience using the controversial drug, insisting that "multiple doctors told me to take it".

Rogan announced he came down with the virus on Instagram last week telling his fans he "threw the kitchen sink" at it in order to get better.

READ MORE: Joe Rogan Insists 'Multiple Doctors' Told Him to Treat COVID With Ivermectin

No state has 70 percent vaccination rate

The overall percentage of Americans fully vaccinated is now 53 percent but is not keeping pace with the spiraling number of new COVID infections.

Vermont sits at the top of the table, with 68 percent of people fully protected against the virus, following by Connecticut (66 percent) and Massachusetts (66 percent).

The worst performing states - also those facing the worst of the latest surge in cases - are Alabama on 39 percent, followed by Wyoming (39 percent) and Idaho (40 percent), where many hospitals are operating an emergency-only service.

50 Mu variant cases found at Texas hospital

Dr. Wesley Long, a clinical pathologist at the Houston Methodist Hospital, told news outlet Click2Houston Monday that staff had found "a few cases here and there" since May.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the Mu COVID variant was detected in roughly 0.1 percent of sequenced COVID samples in the U.S. in the week ending September 4.

READ MORE: Texas Hospital Reports 50 Mu COVID Cases As Delta's Dominance Continues

Health experts push to stamp out dewormer drug for COVID treatment

The fourth wave of COVID infections has Americans turning to ivermectin - a cheap drug used to kill worms and other parasites in humans and animals. Federal health officials have seen a surge in prescriptions this summer, accompanied by worrying increases in reported overdoses.

The drug was even given to inmates at a jail in northwest Arkansas for COVID-19, despite federal warnings, and on Wednesday podcaster Joe Rogan, who has been dismissive of the COVID-19 vaccine, announced he had tested positive for the virus and was taking the medication.

But this week, the American Medical Association and two leading pharmacist groups are joining the FDA to warn people against taking the drug.

"We are urging physicians, pharmacists, and other prescribers — trusted healthcare professionals in their communities — to warn patients against the use of ivermectin outside of FDA-approved indications and guidance.

Large studies are now underway in the U.S. and overseas to determine if the drug has any effect on preventing or blunting COVID-19, with evidence so far suggesting it does not.

Woman struggling to breathe has surgery 'pushed back' as hospital overwhelmed with COVID

Betsy Phillips, a writer for Nashville Scene's political blog "Pith in the Wind," wrote on Tuesday that she had recently received a phone call notifying her that her operation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, had been pushed back.

I am not having surgery this week. The hospital is too full of COVID patients, and the ORs are being shut down so that personnel can deal with COVID patients instead—patients who are mostly unvaccinated. My surgery will be rescheduled maybe in October, depending on COVID.

Phillips, age 47, is suffering from a "granulomatous issue brought on by a histoplasmosis infection," she explained in an email to Newsweek.

READ MORE: Woman With Trouble Breathing Has Surgery Delayed Due to COVID Patients Filling Hospital

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Hospitals in Idaho enter their first full day of emergency-only care today after public health leaders in the state admitted the system was overwhelmed by new COVID-19 patients.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Wednesday for all the latest COVID news.