Germany ICU Patients Double as COVID Hospitalizations Surge, Most Younger and Unvaccinated

The number of patients admitted to intensive care units in Germany nearly doubled in the last two weeks as the country contends with a surge in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, said Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute. Most of the new inhabitants of ICU beds in the country are younger, and the majority are not vaccinated against the virus, the Associated Press reported.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 increased while overall infection rates remained static in Germany, prompting fears of a swamped health system if the country sees another wave in the fall. The surge in hospitalizations comes as more than 61 percent of the country's population is fully vaccinated, a rate lower than several other European countries.

Wieler warned that everyone who chooses not to get vaccinated against the virus is likely to be infected at some point during the pandemic, which he warned is "not over yet." The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's research organization responsible for disease control and prevention, reported 13,565 new cases Wednesday, adding to a total of 4 million cases and more than 92,000 deaths since the onset of the pandemic, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Robert Koch Institute Press Conference
Robert Koch Institute (RKI) President Lothar Wieler said that hospitalizations in Germany have surged, nearly doubling in the last two weeks. Above, Wieler (left) and German Health Minister Jens Spahn look on after a news conference on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, in Berlin on September 8, 2021. Annegret Hilse/Pool Photo via AP

In the U.S., North Carolina health officials are reporting 170 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in K-12 schools or child care settings.

The state health department says school districts that don't require masks are seeing substantially more spread of the virus and hours of lost learning.

Union County Public Schools, the state's sixth-largest district, had about one in eight of its more than 41,000 students under quarantine as of Friday, after the district voted down a mask requirement last month. The more than 5,200 students were placed under quarantine after 337 students tested positive for the virus last week.

Meanwhile, the Wake County Public School System, where masks are mandatory and which is four times larger than Union County Public Schools, has less than a fourth the number of students quarantined. Data from the Wake County district shows less than 1,300 of its more than 161,000 students were quarantined last week.

The weekly report state health officials updated on Tuesday shows the Union Academy Charter School in Monroe has the worst cluster in North Carolina, with 111 cases, including 98 among children. About one in 20 of the charter school's students were infected. Charter Day School in Brunswick County has the next highest cluster of 81 infected children.

Another Georgia school district is switching to virtual learning, after three school bus employees died from COVID-19.

The 9,700-student Griffin-Spalding County school system made the announcement late Monday, citing a disruption in student transportation.

Districts across Georgia are struggling to line up enough drivers and monitors to keep buses running. In Savannah, some bus drivers staged a sickout for the second day on Tuesday after a similar protest Friday.

At least 210,000 Georgia students in 54 districts and charter networks have had their school schedules disrupted because of COVID-19. Some districts have taken days off, some shifted to every-other-day schedules and some sent home individual schools or grades. That's more than 12 percent of Georgia's 1.7 million public school students.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Georgia hospitals remains above 6,000, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

More than 34,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported among Georgia children aged 5-17 in the two weeks ended September 2, according to state data, with more than 125 infection clusters reported in K-12 schools.

Students Wear Face Masks
Some schools and school districts in the U.S. are reporting COVID-19 clusters after resuming in-person classes. Above, students wear face masks as they attend their first day in school at Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes, Florida, on August 23, 2021. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images