The US now averages 100,000 new Covid-19 infections per day, returning to a milestone last seen during the winter wave in another bleak reminder of how quickly the delta strain has spread across the country.
Health officials fear that the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to rise if more Americans do not embrace the Covid-19 vaccine. Nationally, 50% of residents have been fully vaccinated and more than 70% of adults have received at least one dose.
“Our models show that if we don’t vaccinate people, we could have up to several hundred thousand cases a day, similar to our increase in early January,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN this week. .
It took the US about nine months to surpass the average number of cases of 100,000 in November, before peaking at about 250,000 in early January. Cases bottomed out in June, averaging about 11,000 a day, but six weeks later the number is 107,143.
Hospital admissions and deaths are also increasing rapidly, although all are still below the peaks seen early this year before vaccines became widely available. According to the CDC, more than 44,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, a 30% increase in a week and nearly four times the number hospitalized in June. More than 120,000 were hospitalized in January.
The seven-day average for deaths also increased, according to Johns Hopkins University. It rose from about 270 deaths a day two weeks ago to nearly 500 a day as of Friday. The number of deaths peaked at 3,500 a day in January. Deaths usually lag behind hospitalizations, as the disease normally takes a few weeks to kill.
The situation is particularly dire in the South, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US and has seen smaller hospitals overflowing with patients.
In the Southeast, the number of Covid patients hospitalized has increased by more than 50% — a daily average of 17,600 in the past week compared to 11,600 in the previous week, the CDC says. Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky account for 41% of new hospitalizations in the country, the CDC says, twice their total population shares.
Alabama and Mississippi have the lowest vaccination rates in the country: less than 35% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic. Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas are all in the lowest 15 states.
Florida accounts for more than 20% of new cases and hospitalizations in the country, tripling its share of the population. Many rural counties have vaccination rates below 40%, while the state has 49%.
Republican administration Ron DeSantis, which encourages vaccinations, has said he will not impose mask mandates or other statewide measures. He and President Joe Biden have spent the past few days talking verbally about next year’s re-election and looking at a Republican presidential bid in 2024. DeSantis has accused the Democratic president of wanting to steal the “liberties” from Floridians, while Biden has said that DeSantis must “get out of the way” of local officials if he doesn’t want to fight the outbreak.
In some parts of the US, hospitals are trying to find beds for patients. Houston officials said some patients were being transferred out of town — one as far as North Dakota.
dr. Houston chief medical officer David Persse said some ambulances had to wait hours to get patients from hospitals in the Houston area because beds were not available. Persse said he feared this would lead to longer response times to 911 medical calls.
“The health care system is now almost at a breaking point. … For the next three weeks or so, I see no relief from what is happening in the emergency room,” Persse said Thursday.
In Missouri, 30 ambulances and more than 60 medical personnel will be stationed across the state to transport Covid-19 patients to other regions if nearby hospitals are too full to accommodate them, Republican government Mike Parson announced Friday.