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18 Fire Companies Close, Trash Piles Up Amid New York City’s Covid Vaccine Mandate

18 Fire Companies Close, Trash Piles Up Amid New York City’s Covid Vaccine Mandate

Those are increasingly the kinds of people who are dying of Covid-19, as the demographics of those hit hardest by the coronavirus have shifted since the pandemic first hit the United States.

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The country’s most recent, devastating Covid wave, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, showed the strength of the virus even in the face of mounting vaccinations, with more than 100,000 deaths reported in the past three months.

Many of those deaths were reported in places — and in populations — that had been largely spared the worst effects of the disease until now.

An NBC News analysis of what changed from the first 100,000 Covid deaths in the U.S. to the most recent 100,000 deaths shows key geographic and demographic shifts in the evolution of the pandemic. Covid hot spots moved from densely populated cities concentrated in the Northeast and on the West Coast to Southern states and more rural regions. The disease also shifted from disproportionately affecting older adults and people with underlying conditions into a more indiscriminate killer among those who were unvaccinated.

They are deaths that were largely preventable.

“This has become a disease of the unimmunized,” said Dr. James Conway, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and associate director for health sciences at the school’s Global Health Institute.

The delta variant tore through the South, in particular, where vaccination rates have lagged, especially in more rural regions. Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and West Virginia were among the states that experienced the biggest spikes in Covid death rates during the most recent wave.

From the first 100,000 deaths to the latest, Florida saw the largest rise in its share of population-adjusted Covid deaths, increasing by nearly 4 percentage points. NBC News’ analysis looked at each state’s Covid death rate adjusted for population and focused on how each state’s share of the country’s overall deaths changed over time. Adjusted for population, Florida’s rate of recent Covid deaths grew sixfold. Among the states with the largest increase in their share of population-adjusted deaths during the most recent surge, Southern states made up eight of the top 10.
How the pandemic spread
NBC News tracked reported Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic. Visualized here are the share of a state’s population-adjusted Covid deaths and how that share changed from the first 100,000 deaths to the latest 100,000 deaths.

New York had the largest share of Covid deaths in the country’s first 100,000 fatalities. In the most recent 100,000, Covid deaths were largely concentrated in the South.
Cities bore the brunt of the first wave, but the latest 100,000 Covid deaths were more distributed and hot spots shifted to more rural regions.
Among the first 100,000 deaths, people ages 75 and older made up 83 percent of the population-adjusted fatality rate. The share of middle-aged and older adults, especially those 55 to 74 years old, increased in the most recent Covid deaths.
White people made up a much greater share of the most recent deaths compared to the first 100,000 deaths.
Unvaccinated individuals represented the overwhelming majority in the most recent deaths. Vaccines were not yet available when the U.S. recorded its first 100,000 Covid deaths.
In Greece, the public health body (EODY) has just announced an all-time record of 6,700 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours.

This follows a record-breaking 5,449 new infections the previous day.

An additional 59 Covid-related fatalities brought the death toll to 16,050 in a population of around 11 million. On 6 October, the country crossed the grim milestone of 15,000 deaths.

Of the 434 people on life support, 370 (85.25%) are unvaccinated, or only partially inoculated with epidemiologists speaking of an “epidemic” amongst those who have yet to be fully jabbed.

Alarmed by the steep rise in transmission rates the Greek health ministry is poised to unveil further restrictive measures for those who remain unvaccinated. An estimated 60.5 % of citizens in Greece have had the shot.
Beyond Queens, staffing shortages are being felt across New York.

“They knew this was coming,” said Andrew Ansbro, Uniformed Firefighters Association President. “I pray it doesn’t cost the life of a citizen or a firefighter.”

With so many firefighters remaining unvaccinated or out sick, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association says that engine and ladder companies are riding short and that’s a danger to the city. The union pushing for more time for its members to get vaccinated.

See Also
CDC supports wider COVID vaccine booster use : Shots

Mayor Bill de Blasio however, is sticking with the mandate, saying 2,000 more city employees got vaccinated in the past 24 hours. But many are still seeking accommodations.

“I think the big story is clear, 92% of the workforce is now vaccinated. Folks when they get to that moment of decision, overwhelmingly are choosing to get vaccinated. So going through those accommodation requests, you know people put in the request, it has to be reviewed, there’s an opportunity given then for any additional information to offer, there’s an appeal process, it’ll play out over days, even several weeks,” he said. “But what we do know is that for those who get that accommodation okay, for those who don’t, it’s a decision point.”

Meanwhile, of the nearly 11,000 firefighters about 23% remain unvaccinated. As far as sick leave, 2,300 members are out, more than half of them happen to be unvaccinated. Union leaders say not to misinterpret those numbers.

“We take great exception to the assertions that NYC firefighters, allegedly in the thousands, are faking medical leave because of the mandate,” said Edward Kelly, International Association of Firefighters, President.

“Understaffing could end immediately if members stopped going sick when they weren’t sick,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “We hope that ends very soon and we can go back to staffing our units as they should be.”

“The folks who are out sick and really aren’t sick, the folks who are faking it are doing an immense disservice to the people of this city, and to their fellow members of service,” Mayor de Blasio said. “And we will make sure there’s consequences for that. This is something we are watching very carefully to see if it is coordinated. If the union coordinates in any way, that is a job action violation of the Taylor law. We are watching constantly to see if anything constitutes that and if so we go to court immediately.”

Union leaders are also demanding a testing option for all members of the department.

Roughly 6% of the total workforce, about 9,000 municipal workers, are now on unpaid leave, Press Secretary Daniele Filson said, having failed to be vaccinated by the deadline.

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