Virus wave worsens in the Midwest as states expand boosters

Virus wave worsens in the Midwest as states expand boosters

The surge in cases in the upper Midwest has led some Michigan schools to keep students home before Thanksgiving, and the Army has sent medical teams to Minnesota to ease the burden of hospital staff on COVID-19 patients.

The deteriorating outlook comes in the Midwest as enhanced footage is made available to everyone in a growing number of locations. Massachusetts and Utah have become the latest to say anyone 18 or older can lift their cover to get booster shots, and an advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meeting Friday to discuss expanding boosters.

Cold weather states have dominated the new wave of cases over the past seven days, including New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wisconsin, according to federal data. But the Southwest has been trouble spots, too, with more than 90% of hospital beds in Arizona filled.

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In Detroit, where only 35% of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated, the school district said it will switch to online learning on Friday in December due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, the need for building cleanup and time-out for “mental health relief.” One high school for all online learning until November 29.

At another high school, some students and teachers walked out briefly on Wednesday, saying classrooms were still too big for a pandemic and that the school needed to be cleaned.

Detroit health official Dennis Fair Razzo said new cases in the city rose in the last 14 days to 3,858, compared to 2,322 in the previous two-week period.

“We’re in Michigan, so we don’t find ourselves spending time outdoors in flip-flops and tanks,” Fair Razo said Thursday. “We are inside and frankly getting a bit relaxed. We no longer wear our masks. We no longer wash our hands as often as we should. But we know these precautions.”

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Elsewhere in Michigan, some schools are taking time off next week for the Thanksgiving holiday instead of just three days off.

“This school year has presented some major stressors that are being noticed and recognized,” School Principal Greg Helmer told parents, referring to staff shortages and student absenteeism in his Ravenna district.

In Minnesota, the US Department of Defense will send two 22-member medical teams to Hennepin County Medical Center and St. Cloud Hospital next week to treat patients immediately and assist overworked health care workers.

“I need the people of Minnesota to realize, like we said, that this is a dangerous time,” Governor Tim Walz said at the push for vaccinations.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott has called lawmakers to a special session next week to pass a bill that would give local governments the power to adopt temporary mask mandates. He has been opposing a statewide mask order even as daily new cases in Vermont approach numbers not seen since the pandemic’s early days.

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The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States is now averaging about 87,000 per day, up from 72,000 two weeks ago, and hospitalizations are beginning to increase again after a steady decline since the height of the Delta summer boom. The country still averages 1,100 deaths per day, and the number of Americans dying from COVID-19 is now 768,000.

About 59% of the US population, or about 195 million Americans, has been fully vaccinated. Government and health officials are urging more people to get vaccinated, especially the 60 million people who have not yet received their first dose.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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