COVID-19 surge impacting hospitals and schools across the country

Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 11:54 AM EST
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(CNN) - With COVID-19 hospitalizations at a record high in New York, state officials are ordering dozens of healthcare facilities to put non-essential and non-urgent surgical procedures on hold for two weeks.

The 40 facilities, mainly in central and northern New York, are experiencing at least 90% bed occupancy, according to authorities.

New York state is just the latest state racing to help hospitals and healthcare networks with shortages of staff and supplies amid the omicron surge.

At the University of Kansas Health System, there are similar concerns about their facilities approaching a breaking point.

“You go from normal operations to contingency and contingency planning means going to have to put patients in unusual situations. You have to cancel surgeries, but some say we’re too overwhelmed to do our daily work,” Dr. Steven Stites said. “We can’t even meet all of our patients demands, and to that point, we have to turn on the switch that says we have to triage the people we is can help the most. That means we have to let something people die that we might have been able to help.”

The United States is seeing a record number of hospitalizations for children under 5 years old and new admissions for children under 18 are averaging nearly 800 a day.

The figures are fueling the debate about how the nation’s school children should continue their spring semester.

In Georgia, officials say public school teachers and staff are allowed to return to work even after testing positive, or being exposed to COVID-19 as long as they do not have symptoms and wear a mask. Each school district however, can make its own isolation guidelines.

“I believe that anything we do that is not putting the priority on keeping students and educators and their families safe is a mistake. We should be using every tool in our toolbox to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our classrooms and in our schools,” president of Georgia Association of Educators Lisa Morgan said.

The Biden administration says it plans to make 500 million tests available to Americans for free this month.

One emergency physician in Houston remains skeptical that it will be enough.

“We need them now; 500 million won’t be enough. Every American should have two to three tests per week to be testing and 500 million is not even going to get us near there,” Dr. Owais Durrani.

With demand for COVID-19 testing still high, an additional problem is emerging, fraudulent testing kids, according to federal authorities.

Experts warning that using fake testing products won’t just be a waste of your money, it can increase the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus and delaying treatment.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends only purchasing tests authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

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