By Aya Elamroussi, CNN
With primarily unvaccinated Covid-19 patients filling up hospitals and intensive care unit beds, the US health care system “is breaking,” one expert said, as new admissions hit another record.
The rate of new Covid-19 hospitalizations among people in their 30s increased by nearly 300% over the past month, according to an analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Covid-19 hospital admissions among people between the ages of 30 and 39 are now the highest since the pandemic began, eclipsing the prior record seen in January, according to the data.
The alarming uptick is stretching health resources thin as many hospitals struggle to meet the demand of those who need crucial medical care.
“The system is breaking,” CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, told CNN’s Jim Acosta Saturday.
“It’s not just the beds. Many hospitals can find beds in places like parking structures or cafeterias. But it’s qualified people to staff those beds. And the United States is critically short on ICU nurses, so finding the qualified staff to take care of critically ill patients becomes increasingly hard,” said Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.
Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations have climbed in recent weeks as the more contagious Delta variant grips the nation.
And although millions who are eligible to get vaccinated have not received their first shot, Reiner believes it’s time to consider booster shots for those who are already vaccinated.
“I think, in particular, we should be boosting health care personnel many of whom, like me, were immunized eight months ago,” Reiner said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized an additional vaccine dose to be administered to people with compromised immune systems.
And on Friday, vaccine advisers to the CDC voted unanimously to recommend the additional dose for some immunocompromised people. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky quickly endorsed the vote, which means people can begin getting third doses right away.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS this week the data doesn’t yet indicate everyone will need boosters shots of the vaccine, but that could change.
“It’s likely that that will happen at some time in the future,” Fauci said. “We don’t feel at this particular point, that apart from the immune-compromised, we don’t feel we need to give boosters right now.”
As of Saturday, 50.6% of the total US population was fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
How you wear your mask matters, experts say
As mask mandates in schools become a contentious topic in districts across the South, experts want Americans to know the safest way students should mask up.
CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said returning to schools safely is possible.
“Quality of masks really matters,” she told CNN’s Pamela Brown Saturday. “Don’t send your child to school with a cloth face covering. Use as least a three-ply surgical mask and, ideally, an N95 or KN95 if your child is old enough and can tolerate it.”
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, echoed that sentiment.
“Mask with the most highly efficient and effective means you have. These are the N95 masks,” he told CNN.
He added that while the US had a supply shortage of those masks during the pandemic’s onset, there’s now an abundance of them.
“Use them. And when you use them, please don’t wear them under your nose … That’s nothing more than a chin diaper. And it doesn’t provide you any protection,” he said.
Osterholm said Covid-19 is largely transmitted by aerosols, which are tiny particles in the air. He explained that if you can smell the smoke of a cigarette from 20 feet way while masked, then you need a higher quality mask for optimal safety.
Thousands of businesses add vaccination filters on Yelp
Meanwhile, as more cities and businesses begin to require vaccinations, the review website Yelp has implemented filters that allow customers to find out which businesses require proof of vaccination or have a fully vaccinated staff.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive to these filters … In a little over a week, more than 9,000 businesses have added proof of vaccination required and/or all staff fully vaccinated on their Yelp page,” Noorie Malik, Yelp’s senior vice president of user operations, told CNN Saturday.
This month, New York City and New Orleans announced people must have proof of at least one vaccination shot to enter indoor places including restaurants, bars, and fitness and entertainment facilities. San Francisco is the first major US city to mandate proof of full vaccination for such activities.
Malik said Yelp consumers are showing interest in the new filters.
“The vaccination attributes are now within our top 15 most used filters on Yelp. And this really just shows us that it was the right thing to do to help people make more informed decisions,” she said.
Malik said that if people post negative reviews against a business over its vaccination policy, Yelp removes it.
“The good news here is that businesses have … responded very positively to these filters,” she said. “Out of the 9,000 businesses that have taken on these filters or have added these filters, we’ve only removed about 30 or so reviews that didn’t meet our content guidelines.”
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CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Naomi Thomas and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.