In Alabama, one of the hardest-hit states in the latest surge, overall hospitalization numbers continue to climb, driving health officials to use mobile trailers to house bodies because Covid-19 deaths are soaring, state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday.
The state activated two of its four refrigerated trailers for the first time since the pandemic began, Harris said, in Mobile and Baldwin counties this week.
“These are typically held in case of a mass casualty event for example, when a large number of bodies appear at one time. This is actually a situation that has happening in Alabama hospitals now,” Harris said.
“We have enough people dying … that there is no room to put these bodies,” he added. “We are really in a crisis situation. … I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to do this.”
Alabama reported 50 Covid-19 related deaths Thursday and saw “double digit numbers of deaths” in the past two to three weeks, Harris said.
At least 5,571 Alabama children tested positive for Covid-19 last week, Harris said Friday, noting that officials aren’t sure where the children contracted the virus. The state currently has a 23% Covid-19 positivity rate, among the highest in the nation, Harris said.
Alabama is seeing a surge in pediatric cases from last year, Harris explained. Of the 2,879 people hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, 45 of them are children, with at least five of them on ventilators, Harris said.
“Many schools are struggling now on keeping the doors open and many are going to virtual,” he said.
The study stresses the importance of vaccinating eligible children and young people as schools return.
“Improving vaccination coverage and implementing Covid-19 prevention strategies are crucial to reduce Covid-19–associated morbidity and mortality among adolescents and to facilitate safer reopening of schools for in-person learning,” researchers wrote in the study.
Covid-19 is hitting school staff and students
Back-to-school season has been devastating to some states and districts that are seeing a distressing number of students contract the virus. Preventative measures such as quarantining are happening nationwide.
To be sure, it is unclear how many of those are new student quarantines, or students who have had to remain quarantined from the prior week. Schools report numbers, not the names, of those quarantined, according to the department of health.
A total of 11,766 students and 2,383 employees have tested positive for Covid-19 in Mississippi schools since the beginning of August when schools began.
In California, Los Angeles Unified Schools reported 2,761 active Covid-19 cases among students and staff across all as of Friday, according to the district’s dashboard. The district said that as of Tuesday, 3,000 students and 500 employees were required to isolate at home while 3,500 students and 500 employees had to quarantine at home.
The second largest district in the country enacted some of the strongest mitigation measures throughout its more than 1,000 schools. But officials remain on guard about the spread.
“We anticipate an upward trend in outbreaks as our schools have reopened, but we’re continuing to work hard to prevent, investigate and manage them as they happen,” LA County public health director Barbara Ferrer said during a weekly briefing on Thursday.
Health care resources are stretched thin for non-Covid-19 patients
As increases in Covid-19 cases persist, medical attention for other health needs is getting curtailed.
Three OhioHealth hospitals decided to temporarily pause elective surgeries that require an overnight stay due to an influx of Covid-19 hospitalizations, spokesperson Colin Yoder told CNN in a statement Friday. The move, effective Monday, frees hospital capacity and staff, he explained.
“Due to the fluid nature of this fourth surge, we will continually monitor capacity and pause or resume elective surgeries with an overnight stay as needed,” Yoder said.
The treatment Actemra was granted emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration in June to treat those with Covid-19. The medication reduces inflammation that can make patients sicker. It is regularly used for those with rheumatoid arthritis, yet Genentech, the company that makes Actemra, doesn’t have enough for everyone who needs it.
On Thursday, Genentech told customers it’s “working as urgently as possible to expedite replenishments and increase manufacturing capacity and supply wherever possible.”
The company said the medicine should be available for distribution starting Monday, but “given continued tight supply, Genentech anticipates additional intermittent periods of stockouts in the months ahead if the pandemic continues at the current pace.”
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Virginia Langmaid, Mallory Simon, Jen Christensen, Jennifer Henderson and Alta Spells contributed to this report.