Fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, Covid cases are rising in almost all the 50 states in the United States, and with less thanhalf the US population fully vaccinated, public health chiefs warned of an “extraordinary surge” coast to coast. Covid are going up, so are the number of hospitalizations and deaths. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the average rate measured over the past 2 weeks was rising in all 50 states – varying from a dramatic 373% in Tennessee to 10% in Maine. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases official, said there had been an extraordinary surge in the Delta variant of Covid-19 – which is more transmissible – around the world, including in the US.
Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus team, confirmed that unvaccinated Americans “account for virtually all recent Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths”. Four states that are currently seeing high increases in Covid-19 cases have accounted for over 40% of the total Covid cases seen in the country this past week, Zients said. One in five cases occurred in Florida, in which about 50% of the state is fully vaccinated. “Each Covid-19 death is tragic, and those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable,” he said. Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada are also seeing surges in infections in many parts.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and research scientist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan has pointed to a compelling preprint study out of China recently that showed people who were exposed to the Delta variant got sick fast. The study has found that people infected with the Delta variant are shedding way more virus, which could explain why it’s so contagious. Rasmussen says the good news is that it still transmits in the same way as the original strain, so all of those mitigation tools like masking and handwashing and social distancing – all of those still work to block Delta. And the vaccines are still highly effective against this variant.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that new COVID-19 cases are on a sharp rise, up 70%, fueled by the Delta variant. Officials expect more spread in the nation’s unvaccinated population. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain far below last winter’s peak and vaccines are effective against Delta. But rising cases prompted the official, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to declare in a briefing on July 16th that the trend is clear. Unvaccinated people are at risk. She pleaded with Americans to get fully vaccinated.
Describing the new trend across the nation, Walensky says it’s a little bit of a mixed picture. Cases are rising in some places like California and New York that have pretty good vaccination rates. But she says by far, the most spread is happening in places where not many people are vaccinated. In fact, 97% of people who get so sick with COVID-19 that they have to be hospitalized are unvaccinated. Officials are concerned by these numbers and point out that sickness and death is avoidable. COVID-19 is now a vaccine-preventable disease, and people who’ve been holding out should get vaccinated.
During the press briefing, Walensky said that in places that are hot spots where there’s low vaccination rates, it may make sense for local officials to consider masking requirements until the vaccine campaign can catch up. The Los Angelus County has mandated indoor masking, including vaccinated people, and so we’ll have to see if other places follow suit. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk. Communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” she said.