Hospitalizations hit 100,000 in United States for first time since January

More than 100,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the United States as the country grapples with the delta variant’s spread.

The United States has not seen a level like this since Jan. 30, when coronavirus vaccines were not widely available.

Hospitalizations are highest across the South, where every state in the region has a higher portion of its population currently hospitalized with Covid-19 than the national level.

More than 17,000 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in Florida, which has the most hospitalizations for the deadly disease of any state in the country, followed by Texas, which has more than 14,000.

Amid a raging debate over mask requirements in schools, current pediatric hospitalizations for Covid-19 have reached 2,100 nationally, topping 2,000 for the first time since August 2020.

New coronavirus cases are being reported across the country at similar levels to those seen in January.

About 151,000 new daily cases were being reported on average on Jan. 30; on Wednesday, that figure was 148,000. However, even as many hospitals are under strain and report shortages of intensive care unit beds, overall deaths are far lower; the daily average of deaths at the end of January was 3,100 and about 1,100 as of Wednesday.

Florida reported 26,203 more COVID-19 cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

The state also reported nine new deaths the day before. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,130,144 confirmed COVID cases statewide and 42,731 deaths.

Wednesday’s new cases broke the state’s current single-day case total record, according to data provided by the CDC.

More than half of Florida’s students are now enrolled in public school districts with mask mandates despite threats of sanctions from the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who decreed that only parents can decide whether their children wear masks.

On Tuesday night, two school districts — in Orange and Indian River counties — approved mandates to try to stop the spread of the delta variant of the novel coronavirus. They joined eight other districts that recently moved to require a medical exemption from a doctor to opt out.

The Sunshine State is a hot spot for coronavirus cases, with a positivity rate for new cases at nearly 20 percent as hospitals keep filling with patients.

Judge Tonya Parker

Mwanwhile in Texas, a Dallas County judge ruled against Gov. Greg Abbott’s move to ban mask mandates in the state, contending that such a policy violates the county’s ability to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Judge Tonya Parker sided with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Wednesday, issuing a temporary injunction against the Republican governor’s ban on mask mandates.

The move will allow mask policies in local school districts to remain in place for the time being.

Judges will now have the ability to issue penalties to individuals who do not comply with Dallas County’s policy, which requires that masks are worn in businesses, schools and county-owned buildings.

Parker wrote in the ruling that Jenkins proved that Dallas County residents “will suffer probable imminent and irreparable injury through County Judge Jenkins being precluded from exercising his authority” to mandate masks in public, ABC 8 WFAA reported.

The controversy in Dallas began when Commissioner J.J. Koch filed a lawsuit against Jenkins earlier this month after being removed from a courtroom for refusing to wear a mask.

Jenkins responded by filing a lawsuit against Abbott over an executive order he signed that banned mask mandates.

The temporary injunction, however, will likely be appealed to the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas and then to the Texas Supreme Court, before a final ruling is made, The Dallas Morning News noted.

Abbott’s office said in a statement to The Hill that it believed in the state attorney general’s ability to defend the executive order.

“The Office of the Attorney General has successfully defended the Governor’s executive orders in the past, and we are confident they will do so again,” Abbott’s press secretary Renae Eze said.

Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) have been steadfast in their opposition to the mask mandates, contending that the decision to wear a face covering is one of personal responsibility, according to the Dallas Morning News. They have, however, endorsed wearing masks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Public health experts, however, reportedly argued at a hearing regarding the temporary injunction on Tuesday that there is a discrepancy between personal health choices and public health decisions. They equated the situation to bans on smoking to limit secondhand smoke, where the needs of the community should exceed the personal decision to smoke.

Abbott made headlines last week when he tested positive for a COVID-19 breakthrough case, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as someone who is fully vaccinated testing positive for the virus.

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