After hospital systems and blue state governments forced hospital workers who refused to get COVID vaccines out of their jobs, hospitals are having a hard time keeping up with the number of patients coming in, and capacity is strained. Is it any wonder? New York and California have reinstituted mask requirements, and now Rhode Island, the state with the current highest growth rate in cases per capita, is following suit. Governor Dan McKee has instituted a new mask requirement on many businesses. The Providence Journal reports:
Rhode Island has reported an average of 1,090 new cases a day over the last seven days, up 27% from a week ago and up 82% from two weeks ago. The seven-day average is the highest it’s been since Jan. 11.
“We have seen some very significant increases in our cases over the last several weeks. Our schools are feeling it. Our health care system is feeling it,” state Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott told the media.
“These are some of the highest numbers we have seen since the start of the pandemic,” the health director said.
With colder weather forcing people indoors more, and the contagious omicron variant at large, “we are going to see case rates, hospitalizations and … fatalities that will continue to remain elevated into 2022,”‘ she said.
“While vaccination is the critical key, vaccination is not going to be the only way that we get through this,” she said. “Masking works.”
McKee said Rhode Island’s hospitals are “at a breaking point.”
As it happened, his news conference came as Lifespan, the state’s largest health-care system, said it is limiting operative procedures at its hospitals. Spokeswoman Kathleen Hart said: “We are postponing elective surgeries that require an inpatient (overnight) stay. Other non-urgent electives are being postponed on a day-to-day basis based on available staff.”
McKee terminated Rhode Island’s mask mandate along with several other COVID-19 health orders in a July 6 executive order.
But the Rhode Island Department of Health continued to recommend that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when “community spread is substantial or high.” This has been the case in Rhode Island since late July.
The mandates announced Wednesday represent a modified version of the new masking rules in New York that require all indoor businesses to ask customers for proof of full vaccination or enforce mask-wearing at all times.
In New York, those that do not comply could face civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $1,000 per violation, according to The New York Times.
When asked what penalty a Rhode Island business owner might face for not complying, McKee said there will be more details in coming days.
“We are not going to sit back and do nothing,” he said, but “I am expecting that we will get pretty good buy-in … [and] good cooperation from the people in the state of Rhode Island and the local businesses.”
Medical professionals in Rhode Island have urged mask-wearing. The other Democrats in the 2022 race for governor have also backed a mask mandate, and faulted McKee for not acting sooner.
Rhode Island Medical Society President Dr. Elizabeth Lange, a pediatrician, attended the news conference and afterwards told The Journal that “the medical community thanks Governor McKee for his leadership in this surge of COVID infections.”
“His executive orders of masking indoors and vaccinations will have an impact at slowing the spread of COVID,” she said.
The business community is not, however, unanimous.
Dale Venturini, the head of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, told The Journal: “Treatment of staff is our biggest concern, and making sure the public is aware that we are only doing our job.”
Sarah Bratko, the hospitality association’s general counsel, said “roughly 25%” of those her group surveyed last weekend “want these type of measures,” but the majority had “serious concerns” about mask and vaccine mandates as a result of stories out of New York “about hostesses getting assaulted and people spitting in their faces.”
Action Line: If hospitals hadn’t fired the brave employees who cared for America’s sick throughout 2020 because they had concerns about an untested vaccine, perhaps they would have the capacity to fight today’s surge in COVID, which is happening despite high vaccination rates. If your state punishes people for wanting a choice over their body, it’s time to look for a better America today. Start your search with my Super States.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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