Amid a nationwide rise in infections and hospitalizations from the surging delta variant of COVID-19, just three states with lower vaccination rates — Florida, Texas, and Missouri — accounted for 40 percent of all cases. One in five cases occurred in Florida alone.
An analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows Florida is averaging more than 6,400 new covid cases per day, nearly twice what it was a week ago and four times what it was a month ago. According to the data, Florida also tops California and Texas, which both have a daily average of around 4,800 cases.
“If you are not vaccinated, please take the delta variant seriously,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a press briefing. “This virus has no incentive to let up, and it remains in search of the next vulnerable person to infect.”
Federal “surge response” teams have been working with governors and local public health officials. They’ve provided technical expertise on genetic sequencing, data analysis, and outbreak response to Missouri, Illinois, and Colorado, said Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator.
The national vaccination campaign to get shots in arms dramatically curbed the virus’ spread by late spring, but vaccinations have stalled across the country, with 68 percent of U.S. adults having received at least one shot.
There are wide variations regionally, and the number of infections and hospitalizations has begun to rise again as the more contagious Delta variant surges. According to data from the CDC, the seven-day average of U.S. cases has gone up 53 percent compared to the previous seven-day average.
Hospitalizations are up 32 percent and deaths have risen 19 percent. Ninety-seven percent of those cases are occurring among the unvaccinated, according to federal health officials.
But there may be shifting views toward the vaccine in areas of the country that have been most reluctant. In the past week, five states with the highest case rates — Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada — had higher rates of people getting newly vaccinated compared to the national average, Zients said.
While some parts of the country have begun to reconsider or reinstate mandates on wearing face masks amid the surging cases, CDC officials so far are not calling for any changes. The agency’s recommendations say unvaccinated individuals should wear masks, and that those who are vaccinated can do so at their own discretion.