COVID-19 DELTA VARIANT RAISING CONCERNS AND HOSPITALIZATIONS
Reports of new COVID-19 cases have tripled in the last month. The U.S. is now averaging 34,056 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins University. The 55% increase over the last week is largely the result of the Delta variant.
All the while and according to the CDC, vaccination rates are the lowest they have been since January, with 516,441 doses on average reported administered each day of the past week.
Los Angeles reported 2,551 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a 20-fold increase in the span of a single month.
Florida is experiencing the highest increase of COVID-19 cases in the country – averaging 6,492 cases per day, nearly double the previous week, and quadrupled since last month. Per capita, Florida is seeing 200-plus cases per 100,000 residents.
Staff at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville are grappling with a near exponential rise in the number of COVID-19 patients and fear a repeat surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations, “It’s sad and frustrating because we thought we were toward the end of it. And within not even two days, we’re back to being just like it was in December, January, which is crazy,” explained nurse Lauren Schiller.
There are concerns about Florida hospitals reaching capacity and experiencing significant staffing issues. “We could be an entire hospital full of COVID in a matter of a month if things don’t begin to slow down or vaccinations don’t increase,” stated Chad Neilson, director of infection prevention.
Alabama, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, is also experiencing a dramatic uptick in hospitalizations, especially among young Americans. “In our [Intensive Care Units], we are seeing younger people intubated who are very sick. That should be a gigantic wake-up call,” explained Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama.
Hospitalizations in North Texas have increased by 89% in the last two weeks and 150% compared to the previous month, stated Dr. James Cutrell, associate professor, infectious disease and geographic medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Nationally, 48.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated. While booster shots are being considered, especially for those with compromised immune systems, health experts are worried the number of vaccinated people will not be enough to keep the situation from worsening.
According to Ensemble forecasts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 related deaths and hospitalizations are expected to increase over the next four weeks.
The spread of COVID-19 not only has consequences for those that it directly infects, but also increases the risk for new variants to form. According to Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory committee, “The virus will continue to reproduce itself, continue to cause suffering and hospitalization, and worse still, continue to have the chance to make variants that are much more resistant to vaccine-induced immunity.”
According to Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, “…vaccinations are the strongest tool to fight the virus, but rates are still too low.”
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