Biden Gets COVID Booster Shot, US Hospitals Overwhelmed wit Delta Cases, Chile Beats COVID

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US President Biden receives his COVID-19 booster shot on Monday afternoon, the White House said.

Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on live television in December of last year and received his second dose publicly the following month.

Biden, who is 78 years old, falls within the pool of individuals that the CDC recommends receive boosters of the Pfizer vaccine.

The White House said previously that Biden would receive his booster shot publicly once the third dose was recommended.

The CDC last week recommended boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans over age 65, nursing homes residents, individuals with underlying medical conditions and people whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting the virus.

In a rare move, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky diverged from an advisory panel in making the recommendation for people at risk of COVID-19 infection because of their jobs.

Walensky defended the decision during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” over the weekend, saying it was a “scientific close call” as to whether individuals in high-risk job setting should be eligible for a third dose of the vaccine.

“Because of that close call and because of all the evidence we reviewed both of the FDA and at the CDC, I felt it was appropriate for those people to also be eligible for boosters,” Walensky said.

“So, who are those people? Those are people who live and work in high-risk settings, that includes people in homeless shelters, people in group homes, people in prisons, but also importantly are people who work with vulnerable communities. So our health care workers, our teachers, our grocery workers, our public transportation employees,” she said.

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More hospitals forced to ration care amid delta surge

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While the focus over the past few days has been the rollout of boosters, they won’t help solve the hospitalizations of the unvaccinated.

Coronavirus patients are straining hospitals across the U.S., particularly in Western states, where administrators are being forced to ration care as facilities are pushed to their breaking points by the delta variant.

Alaska this past week joined Idaho in adopting statewide crisis standards of care that provide guidance to health care providers making difficult decisions on how to allocate limited resources. Several hospitals in Montana have either activated crisis standards of care or are considering it as the state is pummeled by COVID-19.

Under the guidelines, providers can prioritize treating patients based on their chances of recovery, impacting anyone seeking emergency care, not just those with COVID-19.

Triage mode: Typically, crisis standards of care involve a scoring system to determine the patient’s survivability, sometimes including their estimated “life years” and how well their organs are working. Such guidelines do not call for factoring in vaccination status, much like emergency rooms don’t prioritize certain car crash victims based on whether a driver was drinking.

Still, the vast majority of COVID-19 patients overwhelming hospitals are unvaccinated, months after the vaccine became widely available to U.S. adults.

As of last Friday, the ICUs in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky and Texas all exceeded 90 percent capacity. The ICUs in Alaska and Montana, meanwhile, were 84 percent and 77 percent full, respectively, according to federal data.

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Chile to lift state of emergency as vaccines beat back COVID infections

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Elderly people wait to receive the Pfizer BioNTech or AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine as Chile starts a booster vaccination campaign for those inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, in Valparaiso, Chile, August 11, 2021. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Chilean authorities announced on Monday the end of a state of emergency in force since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a sign of life returning to normal following a sharp decrease in cases in the South American nation.

The state of emergency, an extraordinary administrative measure approved by Congress early in 2020, had allowed the government to impose night-time curfews and forced quarantines on hard-hit districts amid the worst of the outbreak.

“During the last three months…the health situation …has evolved favorably, with a very significant reduction in infections, active cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” President Sebastian Pinera told reporters.

Chile has spearheaded one of the world’s fastest and most successful vaccination drives, with nearly three-quarters of its population fully vaccinated, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have plummeted as a result.

The government said it would also relax restrictions on movement, liberalize limits on capacity at events and public spaces and earlier this month re-opened its borders to tourists.

The announcement comes the same day as the health officials began vaccinating children between 6 and 11 years old with China’s Sinovac vaccine, which received approval for emergency in September.

Neighboring Argentina last week also unveiled plans to ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions, including loosening strict border controls, allowing more commercial activities and getting rid of the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors.

Chile reported 640 new cases on Monday, with a positivity rate of about 1.08% in the past 24 hours.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Alistair Be
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