PODCAST: U.S. surpasses its record for coronavirus hospitalizations (UCNN 01.11.22)

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According to the Washington Post, The United States surpassed its record for covid-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, with no end in sight to skyrocketing case loads, falling staff levels and the struggles of a medical system trying to provide care amid an unprecedented surge of the coronavirus. Tuesday’s total of 145,982 people in U.S. hospitals with covid-19, which includes 4,462 children, passed the record of 142,273 set on Jan. 14, 2021, during the previous peak of the pandemic in this country. But the highly transmissible omicron variant threatens to obliterate that benchmark. If models of omicron’s spread prove accurate — even the researchers who produce them admit forecasts are difficult during a pandemic — current numbers may seem small in just a few weeks. Disease modelers are predicting total hospitalizations in the 275,000 to 300,000 range when the peak is reached, probably later this month. As of Monday, Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana, Maryland and Virginia had declared public health emergencies or authorized crisis standards of care, which allow hospitals and ambulances to restrict treatment when they cannot meet demand. Nurses and other hospital staff continued to fall sick themselves, raising patient-to-nurse ratios in some places to high levels. As of Monday there were 23,524 covid patients in ICUs nationwide, compared with a record 29,591 on Jan. 12, 2021. About 1,200 hospitals — just under a quarter — reported a critical staffing shortage this week, and another 120 reported anticipating a staffing crisis within a week, according to data kept by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to Mission Network News, the surge of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has become so dangerous in some areas that Mission Aviation Fellowship had to move their base to Bunia. However, MAF staff are not the only ones who’ve had to move. Jon Cadd, east DRC security manager with MAF says, “Because of the fighting that is going on, a lot of IDPs, internally displaced people [and] refugees, they are all moving into Bunia [among other places.]” The IDP camps in Bunia now has over 20,000 people. As soon as they saw the needs, local believers stepped up with the help of MAF. Cadd says, “Local churches got together and started trying to gather food and feed them — a totally impossible task for their resources and what was around. Some of our missionary wives wrote some letters and got a fund going to support that. We started feeding and helping the refugees before a lot of the big NGOs and the UN got involved.” MAF came alongside Congolese Christians delivering food, blankets, tarps, and other relief supplies to IDPs. MAF partners with Pastor Bisoke, a local Christian leader with a passion for serving refugees and orphans in Jesus’s name. Together, they started a biblical counseling outreach in the IDP camp and sewing classes for refugee women, funded with the help of MAF donors. One of the most exciting ministries in the IDP camp is showing the JESUS Film. Cadd says, “I was trying to get an idea of how many people came during this first time to the showing of the JESUS Film. Our pastor Bisoke said, ‘Many, too many people are coming. It’s amazing.’ And I said, ‘Well, you do this all the time. Give me an estimate. You know if there’s 200 people or 500 people. Just give me a rough estimate.’ “He said, ‘All of them. All the people in the IDP camp. There could be 20,000 people there!’” After the first JESUS Film showing, Pastor Bisoke invited people to give their lives to Jesus — and hundreds responded.

According to the Associated Press, Uganda’s schools reopened to students on Monday, ending the world’s longest school disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening caused traffic congestion in some areas of the capital, Kampala, and students can be seen carrying their mattresses in the streets, a back-to-boarding school phenomenon not witnessed here for nearly two years. Uganda’s schools have been fully or partially shut for more than 83 weeks, the world’s longest disruption, according to figures from the U.N. cultural agency. The shutdown affected more than 10 million learners. The East African country of 44 million people first shut down its schools in March 2020, shortly after the first coronavirus case was confirmed on the African continent. Some classes were reopened to students in February 2021, but a total lockdown was imposed again in June as the country faced its first major surge. For many parents, the reopening was long overdue. “Inevitably, we have to open up schools,” said Felix Okot, the father of a 6-year-old kindergartner. “The future of our kids, the future of our nation, is at stake.” The country’s schools cannot “wait forever” for the pandemic’s end, he warned.

According to the Daily Mail, An 18-year-old New Mexico mother who was caught on video throwing her newborn child into a dumpster told police she did not know she was pregnant until the day before she delivered her baby in a bathroom. Alexis Avila was arrested and charged with attempted murder and child abuse after her infant son was found alive on Friday, nearly six hours after being tossed in the trash in 30-degree weather. Surveillance video shows a woman arriving in a car before opening the back door and tossing a black trash bag into a dumpster in Hobbs, New Mexico, at around 2pm on January 7. Six hours later, footage showed three people looking through the dumpster before one of them found the infant inside. Incredibly, the newborn was alive. Avila told police she did not know she was pregnant until she went to a doctor for a stomach pain on Thursday. The following day, she delivered her son in a bathroom at her parents’ home. After giving birth, Avila said she panicked. She wrapped her son in a towel, placed him in a trash bag and drove around, before throwing the child in the dumpster at the Broadmoor Shopping Center at around 2pm on January 7. It was not until nearly 8pm that evening that a group of dumpster divers rescued the infant after hearing his cries. They told police they initially thought it was a kitten. Avila’s son was taken to a hospital in Hobbs before being transferred to another hospital in Lubbock that has a more advanced NICU unit. When doctors assessed the baby, they found that his body temperate was so low that it did not register, indicating hypothermia. The newborn has since been given a blood transfusion, and put on a feeding tube and oxygen.

According to USA Today, An overwhelming majority of Americans believe the U.S. is in the grips of a full-blown mental health crisis, according to a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought a rise in depression, anxiety, stress, addiction and other challenges, almost 9 in 10 registered voters believe there’s a “mental health crisis” in the nation, the poll found. Though it may be rare to find such agreement in a nation divided over so many issues, mental health experts said they’re not surprised. Shelli Avenevoli, deputy director for the National Institute of Mental Health, said mental health is top of mind for people. Even if someone isn’t experiencing problems themselves, they know someone who is, she said. Jared Skillings, chief of professional practice for the American Psychological Association, said the poll shows that mental health is no longer just a discussion among academics or in elite policy circles. “This is regular folks,” he said. He hopes that widespread concern will provide the political pressure to go beyond the short-term fixes he said have been offered. Last month, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy used the word “crisis” in calling for a “swift and coordinated response” to mental health challenges in children, adolescents and young adults. In his advisory, a step reserved for major public health challenges that need immediate action, Murthy said the pandemic has had a “devastating” effect on the mental health of young people who had already been struggling at an alarming rate with feelings of helplessness, depression and thoughts of suicide.

According to Protocol, The Great Resignation will likely continue into 2022. About one-quarter of workers are looking to get a new job this year, according to a report from ResumeBuilder.com released earlier this week. Of those employees, some want to move into tech-related industries such as IT, business and finance. Roughly 23% of those surveyed last month said they want to quit this year. Another 9% have already found a new job, and an additional 9% said they’ll retire this year. Most of those resignations are happening in the retail, food and hospitality industries, according to the report. “Employees may wait for end-of-the-year bonuses to make a change or see what new opportunities arise in the new year,” career strategist Carolyn Kleiman said in the report. “Plus, as the pandemic continues, people continue to evaluate their lives, and work is a large part of that.” Better pay and benefits, finding remote work and landing a job people are passionate about are some of the top reasons for seeking new work, the report shows. Time and time again, remote tech work has proven to be hugely popular and will likely continue to grow in 2022. The hunt for a more purposeful job also checks out, given that more people have said they lost a sense of meaning in their work since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

According to ESPN, Georgia’s agonizing 41-year wait is over. With 54 seconds left in Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T, Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo intercepted Alabama quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown — the longest pick-six in championship game history — cementing the No. 3 Bulldogs’ 33-18 win over the No. 1 Crimson Tide and the program’s first national championship since 1980. The play brought Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, a former walk-on, to tears on the sideline, and as soon as the clock expired, Georgia’s assistant coaches and staff bolted to the elevators in the shaking press box at Lucas Oil Stadium as they thundered out cheering together. On the field, coach Kirby Smart said he hugged 89-year-old Vince Dooley’s neck — the last coach at Georgia before Smart to win the national title — and they were both in tears. “I told the guys in the locker room, just take a picture of this, because I think back to the ’80 championship picture and seeing all those players and the Frank Ros and the Herschel Walkers and all these people that have reached out and said things,” Smart said. “Our guys have accomplished that, something special, and as they say, they’ve become legendary, and I want that for them.” Smart said he got off the elevator on the 15th floor at the team hotel earlier this week and saw Dooley sitting on a bench, locked out of his room. “I thought, God put him there for me to see him the night before this game, and he was waiting on his key to come up to his room. I just knew that meant something. It was a special, special win.” While it was a familiar matchup featuring two teams that faced each other in the 2018 national title game and again in this year’s SEC championship game — both Alabama wins — it was a wildly different outcome before an announced crowd of 68,311. Georgia finished the 2021 season with a 14-1 record, the most wins in school history.

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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