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Welcome to Overnight Health Care. The constant battles over masks in schools are getting a bit exaggerated; a parent in Texas decided that stripping during a school board meeting was the best way to make his point that mask rules are necessary. 

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Today: Tens of thousands of students have been quarantined to start the year. COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 100,000 for the first time since January, and the battle between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and local school districts over mask mandates drags on.

We’ll start with schools: 

At least 90,000 students have had to quarantine because of COVID-19 so far this school year

Just weeks into the new school year, at least 90,000 children in 19 states have had to or are currently quarantining or isolating after contracting COVID-19 or coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the disease.

The disruptions have caused uncertainty for parents, students and school districts that had hoped to resume in-person instruction after a year marked by lockdowns and virtual learning.

The staggering number of K-12 students under quarantine is largely driven by the highly infectious delta variant that has taken hold as the dominant strain in the U.S.

When factoring in reports that included both students and staff as a single statistic, the number of people quarantining or in isolation rose to at least 154,000, according to an analysis of news reports and school data.

Isolation, in some districts, refers to individuals who test positive for COVID-19, while quarantine involves people who come into contact with the virus. Both circumstances, however, force students and faculty members to spend time outside of the classroom.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 180,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 between Aug. 12 and Aug. 19, which accounts for nearly 4 percent of the more than 4.5 million child coronavirus infections reported since the beginning of the pandemic.

Children accounted for more than 1 in 5 new COVID-19 cases last week, according to the AAP.

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Children’s hospitals beg for “immediate help” from Biden

The CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) pleaded on Thursday for President BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: Progressives can be successful candidates on ‘small-dollar donations’ Trump accuses Jan. 6 panel of trying to distract Overnight Defense & National Security — Breakneck evacuations continue as Biden mulls deadline MORE to support pediatric hospitals across the country as they approach capacity and confront staff shortages during the pandemic.

Child patients have flooded pediatric hospitals in recent weeks with COVID-19 cases as well as a respiratory illness called RSV, pushing several of these hospitals to their breaking point. 

Mark Wietecha, the CEO of the association that represents the U.S.’s more than 220 children’s hospitals, called the culmination of challenges the “perfect storm” in a letter sent to the president. 

“With pediatric volumes at or near capacity and the upcoming school season expected to increase demand, there may not be sufficient bed capacity or expert staff to care for children and families in need,” he said.

“We ask for immediate support for pandemic-driven staffing cost increases through federal pediatric emergency assistance, specifically the release of provider relief funding and any other federal workforce support that can be quickly distributed and targeted to pediatric crisis response,” he wrote. 

By the numbers: Across the country, more than 1,400 children are hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. More than 350 children were hospitalized with the virus Wednesday. 

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US surpasses 100K COVID-19 hospitalizations for first time since January

The United States now has more than 100,000 people hospitalized with the coronavirus across the country for the first time since January.

On Thursday, The Washington Post noted that hospitalization rates are highest in the South, including Florida, where 17,000 people are hospitalized, and Texas, where another 14,000 are receiving care. 

Citing its own coronavirus database, the Post reported 2,100 children have been hospitalized nationally this month, topping 2,000 for the first time since August 2020. 

The newspaper added that about 148,000 new cases are being reported nationwide each day, a figure also not seen since January.

The major difference between January and today is the availability of coronavirus vaccines. The CDC reports that almost 52 percent of the total U.S. population, including 60.7 percent of the eligible population are vaccinated. 

Read more here.

Texas Supreme Court sides with Abbott in blocking San Antonio’s school mask mandate

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday sided once again with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over his ban on school mask mandates in the state, blocking Bexar County from continuing to defy his executive order. 

The court said in its ruling that it is granting Abbott emergency relief to enforce his ban, writing that during the coronavirus pandemic, “the status quo, for many months, has been gubernatorial oversight of such decisions at both the state and local levels.” 

“That status quo should remain in place while the court of appeals, and potentially this Court, examine the parties’ merits arguments to determine whether plaintiffs have demonstrated a probable right to the relief sought,” the court added. 

Ongoing court battle: The state Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Abbott earlier this month to block temporary restraining orders from district courts that had allowed local authorities to override the governor’s ban and impose mask mandates. 

However, the day after that previous ruling, Bexar County District Judge Antonia Arteaga approved the county’s mask mandate, arguing that local officials had a reasonable interest in protecting students, especially those ineligible to get the vaccine.

Thursday’s Supreme Court decision overrules the district court’s ruling, forcing Bexar County to reconsider how to move forward with its health and safety requirements amid new surges in coronavirus infections caused by the highly contagious delta variant. 

Read more here

CDC investigating salmonella outbreaks in 17 states

The CDC is investigating two salmonella outbreaks in 17 states that are possibly linked to Italian-style deli meat, officials said this week.

The agency had announced that 36 people from 17 states have reported salmonella sickness, and 12 of those people were hospitalized.

The CDC said there have been no deaths reported and the true number of cases is likely much higher since people can recover at home without getting diagnosed.

After investigating the matter, including interviewing some of the individuals who got sick, the CDC is telling people to avoid “Fratelli Beretta brand prepackaged uncured antipasto trays. Trays can include uncured salami, prosciutto, coppa, or soppressata.”

The trays have “best buy” dates of Feb. 11, 2022, and were sold across the country, according to the agency

Read more here

What we’re reading

Biden falls short on pledge for U.S. to be the world’s vaccine ‘arsenal,’ experts say (The New York Times)

Pediatricians besieged by parents seeking coronavirus shots for kids under 12 (The Washington Post)

U.S. officials loosened controls on NIH-funded research that experts fear could cause pandemics (Washington Post)

Covid data disappearing in some states even amid delta surge (NBC News)

State by state

What Missouri learned the hard way about rapid Covid testing in schools (Kaiser Health News)

Health Department employees urge leaders to issue stronger Covid-19 guidance (VT Digger)

Illinois governor mandates COVID vaccines for teachers, college students and health care workers, and imposes indoor mask mandate for all (Chicago Tribune)

North Texas charter school closes to stop COVID outbreak after 1 of every 10 students tests positive (The Dallas Morning News)


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