US hospitals prepare for influx of Covid patients as millions travel for Thanksgiving | US news

As cases begin surging once more in the US, millions of people are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, and health workers and hospital systems are now preparing for an influx of Covid patients after having little time to recover from the summer surge.

Last year, there was a major surge in cases around the holidays. But this year, new tools could blunt the spread – if they are taken up quickly.

US scientific agencies on Friday recommended boosters for all adults six months after mRNA vaccination, and children over the age of five recently became eligible for vaccines.

Existing treatments like monoclonal antibodies are highly effective if given early, while two promising antiviral medications from Merck and Pfizer may be authorized in coming weeks. But the new treatments may come against a backdrop of rising cases during the holiday season.

“It is a race against time,” Kyle Enfield, the associate chief medical officer of critical care at University of Virginia Health, said.

More than 92,000 Americans are now testing positive for Covid-19 each day, and more than 1,000 people are dying from the virus every day, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases are rising in a majority of states, with hotspots in the midwest, north-east and parts of the south-west.

There have already been more Covid deaths this year than there were in 2020, due to the more transmissible Delta variant and low vaccination rates across much of the country, and total deaths from Covid-19 in the US may reach 1 million by spring.

Even so, about 20 million passengers are expected to fly this Thanksgiving, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced last week. These numbers are approaching the record-breaking travel seen around Thanksgiving in 2019, when 26 million people were screened for flights.

“We anticipate that travel may be very close to pre-pandemic levels this holiday,” David Pekoske, administrator of the TSA, said in a statement.

Given the cooler weather and upcoming holidays, “I do think that we are likely going to see an increase in cases over the next couple of weeks,” said Enfield. “Winter can be a busy time in the hospital because of the regular flu and pneumonia [cases] that people get, but this year, I think we’re going to add in ongoing Covid transmission.”

But it’s hard to predict how big the next wave will be, he said – and much of these calculations depend on vaccination rates as well as existing and potential medications.

Many hospitals in Massachusetts, a state seeing some of the fastest-growing cases and hospitalization rates in the country, are already at or over capacity, Emily Rubin, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Massachusetts General hospital, told the Guardian.

It’s not just Covid filling the wards. “We have a large number of ICU patients who are in the hospital with non-Covid illnesses,” she said. Part of the reason has to do with delayed care during the pandemic that leads patients to get sicker than they would have otherwise been.

Experts are hoping that even if Covid cases rise, the vaccines will help keep hospitalizations and deaths lower than last year.

“It gives me a little bit of hope that we’re seeing some breakthrough infections that are not as severe as the ones that we’ve seen in the past,” Enfield said. “But I think that the next couple of days and weeks are really going to be telling for what the real impact is going to be.”

In the meantime, hospitals are hiring as many nurses and clinicians as possible and increasing the number of patients who can receive monoclonal antibodies at infusion centers.

People experiencing Covid symptoms should be tested immediately, and those who test positive and are at high risk of severe illness should immediately undergo monoclonal antibody treatments.

But providing the monoclonal treatment is challenging, because it usually requires an hour-long infusion at a specialty center.

“We have increased capacity substantially over the past couple of months, and we are doing everything we can to extend that to keep up with demand. But the demand has grown substantially as we’ve seen the rising cases,” Rubin said.

Having enough staff for these centers has been difficult, Rubin said, as health systems across the country face worker shortages.

“Since the whole system is very stressed, every step along that chain can take some time,” Rubin said.

New antivirals could be much easier to give to patients, and the Biden administration has set aside billions for the new medications. First, however, they need to be authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration and then distributed throughout the country.

“We’re eager to see them. We’re also eager to see the data in more detail,” Rubin said. “We haven’t, of course, seen published, peer-reviewed data, but we will be eager to see those.”

Like monoclonals, the antivirals appear to work best early in the course of an illness, so getting test results quickly and then receiving the medication soon after would be key.

Easily accessible antivirals would also help in rural areas and places that don’t have infusion centers, helping address inequities that have plagued some communities – especially communities of color, which have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic.

With “all of these therapies, there’s concern that they are not being distributed equitably and that different communities of patients have differential access, and that’s a big concern”, Rubin said.

But if the pills are easy to take anywhere in the country and work well to prevent hospitalization and death, she said, “that would be sort of the holy grail”.

Medications for later in the course of illness – when patients usually show up at the hospital – still need to be developed.

In the meantime, Rubin and Enfield urge people to take as many precautions as possible: getting vaccinated against Covid and the flu, which may be particularly bad this year, as well as wearing masks and distancing. “There is a lot that every person in the public can do right now to help out,” Enfield said.

“All of us who’ve been doing this for a while are tired,” Enfield said. “We’re really hopeful that soon we’ll see the number of cases continue to go down and we’ll have a chance to breathe a sigh of relief.”

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Visit Orlando expecting influx of international tourists as travel ban gets lifted

ORLANDO, Fla. – The U.S. will lift its ban on international travelers effective Friday, Nov. 8, and it appears folks from all over the world are itching to get back to America’s tourist destinations.

The announcement from the Biden administration is a big deal for so many parts of the country, including Central Florida, and Orlando tourism officials have already started marketing to Europeans.

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President and CEO of Visit Orlando Casandra Matej spoke with anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly on” while on her trip to London to discuss the impacts the move will have on tourism and the local economy.

“We are so excited, and it couldn’t have been better timing,” Matej said. “Visit Orlando is in London literally inviting our UK friends back to Orlando because we’re open, we know you can travel safely and we now know the protocols.”

Those protocols include proof of vaccination and enhanced testing.

International tourists contribute an estimated $6 billion to the Central Florida economy every year, according to Matej.

Watch the full interview in the video player above.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

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Iowa State Patrol braces for summer traveling influx | News

(Council Bluffs) — While the Memorial Day weekend is still two weeks away, Iowa State Patrol officials are already anticipating heavy traffic on the roads this summer.

Triple A projects more than 37 million Americans will travel during the five-day holiday period–most of which on the roads. That’s a 60% increase over Memorial Day weekend last year, when a good portion of the country was under lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trooper Ryan DeVault is public education officer for the Iowa State Patrol’s Council Bluffs post. Speaking on KMA’s “Morning Line” program Friday morning, DeVault says the roadways should be busy now that some coronavirus-related restrictions have been lifted.

“We definitely expect to see an increase in traffic,” said DeVault. “I think people kind of have a sense of urgency to kind of open things up a little bit more. With vaccinations and things that are taking place, I think people are feeling more comfortable about getting out in public, maybe going and having those family get-togethers, things like that.

Statistically, Memorial Day weekend is tied for second with Independence Day in terms of holiday traffic fatalities in Iowa. That’s why DeVault is reminding motorists of some traffic safety tips heading into summer. The number-one tip for drivers is to have patience on the roads. And, give yourself plenty of distance between vehicles.

“You know, a lot of the actions that we see here out on the roadways, those can be prevented by increasing that following distance between you and the car in front of you,” said DeVault. “If you’re behind the car, you should always be running those scenarios through your mind of, you know, if this would happen, what would I do. Kind of an if-when kind of thinking. Defensive driving–always being prepared for the unexpected.”

DeVault also reminds motorists and passengers to wear their seat belts. Of the 81 traffic fatalities in Iowa thus far this year, 52 were individuals not wearing safety belts.

“That’s within the driver’s control, and the passenger’s control, to put that seat belt on, to potentially save that life,” he said. “It’s not even a skill. A lot of people talk about somebody being a good driver, a bad driver. It has nothing to do with skill at that point. It’s just as simple as grabbing that seat belt, and making sure you buckle up before you hit the road.”

Another safety tip is to keep your mind on the road, and avoid distractions.

“You know, we at the Iowa State Patrol are just trying to encourage people just how important, as well as dangerous, the skill of driving can be,” said DeVault. “Your number-one focus needs to be on what you’re doing, which is driving. If you can limit those distractions that are taking place inside your vehicle, give yourself plenty of travel time. Leave plenty early. Don’t put yourself in that rush situation where, all of sudden, you’re seeing that aggressive tailgate driving, because you’re running late to your destination.”

With excessive speed still an issue on Iowa’s roads, DeVault implores motorists to slow down and obey speed limits. And, as always, don’t drink and drive. You can hear the full interview with Ryan DeVault here:

Thank you for reading

At KMA, we attempt to be accurate in our reporting. If you see a typo or mistake in a story, please contact us by emailing

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Biden Has Asked Team to Travel to Mexico Border and Report on Influx of Children | World News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden has asked senior officials to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border and brief him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors and steps to ensure their safety and care, a White House spokesman said on Thursday.

Biden’s administration is facing criticism from Democrats and activists who say unaccompanied migrant children and families are being held too long in detention centers instead of being released while their asylum applications are considered.

For their part, Republicans and immigration hawks complain that the willingness to let in more migrants while their asylum applications are being heard has encouraged more migration from Central America.

“President Biden has asked senior members of his team to travel to the border region in order to provide a full briefing to him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors and an assessment of additional steps that can be taken to ensure the safety and care of these children,” White House spokesman Vedant Patel said.

The timing of the visit would remain confidential because of security and privacy concerns, Patel said.

U.S. Border Patrol agents caught more than 4,500 migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, according to government figures shared with Reuters, a large single-day tally that comes amid growing fears that illegal entries could soar in the coming weeks.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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Warning after surge in visits to South Shields tip – traffic measures and time changes in place after ‘spring cleaning’ sparks influx at Middlefields Recycling Village

South Tyneside Recycling Village, Middlefields, South Shields.
South Tyneside Recycling Village, Middlefields, South Shields.

South Tyneside Council has been forced to put temporary traffic management measures in place to help deal with an influx of visitors to the site at Middlefields Industrial Estate in South Shields, which they said had led to problems with congestion in the area.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Demand typically tends to rise around this time of year with many people having a spring clear out.

“But it is important to remember we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. National restrictions remain in place, with people required to stay home unless essential, and if they go out for permitted reasons, then they should stay local.

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Traffic queues at Middlefields Recycling Village in May 2020, shortly after the rip reopened during the first national lockdown

“Over recent days we have seen a surge in visitor numbers, which has been further exacerbated by issues in neighbouring authority areas. This has led to long queues forming at the Recycling Village with congestion along Heddon Way and Boldon Lane causing issues for businesses based on the industrial estate.”

Cllr Gibson said it was ‘extremely important’ Boldon Lane remains clear, particularly for emergency vehicles.

“We would urge anyone approaching a queue that reaches the entrance to the estate to leave and return another time,” he said.

“We have now reinstated the effective traffic management system we introduced last summer when the site reopened after the first national lockdown. We hope this will go some way to ease the problems we have been experiencing over the past few days and we will keep the situation under review.”

Councillor Ernest Gibson at the Recycling Village in South Shields

Traffic measures and opening hours

To help alleviate traffic, a two-lane approach system has been reinstated along Heddon Way from Wednesday March 3, to help separate visitors to the Recycling Village from business traffic on the industrial estate.

Opening hours will be extended by one hour from Monday March 15 until Easter, with an earlier opening time of 8am.

While the site remains open under the Government’s current national restrictions, measures remain in place. People are asked to visit only if their journey is essential and stay home as much as possible to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community.

The ‘Even Plate, Even Date / Odd Plate, Odd Date’ system remains in place. Cars with the wrong plate for the date will be asked to leave the queue and return on the corresponding day.

People who do not live in the borough will be asked to leave and go to their local household waste and recycling sites.

Pick-ups and cars with trailers can continue to use the site with a Household Waste Permit between 9.30am and 11am only.

Residents are urged to separate their essential waste materials before they travel to help limit their time on site.

Visitors are encouraged not to arrive before the opening time and if queues reach Boldon Lane, to come back another time. Additional signage has also been put in place indicated waiting times. If the waiting time exceeds the closing time of 6pm, then residents are should not join the queue and return on another day.

The shop at the Recycling Village remains closed under the current national restrictions around non-essential retail. Anyone with items to donate are urged not to leave them outside and to return with them once the shop reopens.

Councillor Gibson added: “We thank the public for their support over a very challenging period. If people must visit, then it is extremely important that they follow the guidance. We continue to work hard to ensure the restrictions are observed for the safety of both staff and visitors and that the site continues to run as safely and efficiently as possible.”

For further information about visiting the Recycling Village, including full details of the restrictions in place and vehicles permitted, visit the council’s website at

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