Caution urged for Labor Day travel

(CNN) – The U.S. is currently surpassing its average of 160,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. Hospitals are still struggling under the burden of unvaccinated patients and staff shortages. Some states are even getting low on sources of life-saving oxygen.

This Labor Day weekend, the message from federal health officials is clear. “First and foremost, if you were unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Given the surge in COVID-19 infections, the U.S. is now averaging more than 160,000 new cases a day.

The CDC says even those who are vaccinated should wear masks and take COVID risks into consideration.

More than 101,000 people are hospitalized nationwide.

Hospitalizations in Georgia are up ten-fold since the beginning of July.

Idaho’s governor warned his state has only a handful of intensive care unit beds left. “Where hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds, those are filling up too. Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained,” explained Governor Brad Little.

The toll on the nation is already steep and rising. Average daily COVID deaths are now topping 1,300, more than doubling since mid-august.

Social Security and Medicare trustees now projecting mortality rates during the 2020-2023 period for those age 15 and up will be 15 percent higher than before the pandemic and there are growing concerns about rising cases among children who are already being hospitalized with COVID at the highest rate in more than a year, according to CDC data.

Director of Pediatric Critical Care at UAB and Children’s of Alabama Dr. Nancy Tofil said, “Most either unvaccinated or under the age of 12 and unable to get vaccinated. The numbers have been three or four times what we were seeing last winter at its peak.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced measures to help protect children. “All school staff, anybody who enters that building will have to be vaccinated or undergo mandatory testing,” she said.

More than 3,000 students in one Fort Worth, Texas school district now quarantined due to COVID exposure after just two weeks of school. The district announced a mask mandate last month in defiance of the governor.

In Florida, where the governor has also banned school mask mandates, Volusia County’s school board—over fiery objections—voted late Tuesday to join a dozen of other counties in implementing mask mandates, meaning they could lose state funding.

Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried said, “This governor, time and time again, has shown a complete depraved indifference for human life, especially for our children. We’re seeing cases, the largest section of cases in our state last week were those under 12 years old.”

Meanwhile in Vermont, 75 percent of eligible children have received at least one dose of vaccine, the first state to reach that threshold. The state has the highest overall vaccination rate in the country and, as a result, the lowest COVID hospitalization rate.

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