Forty percent of active coronavirus cases in the US are located in just three states while those with the worst infection rates are finally seeing an uptick in vaccinations as the spread of the highly-contagious Delta variant hammers the South.
Now weeks removed from the July 4 holiday, which medical professionals feared would cause a spike in coronavirus cases among the unvaccinated, the fourth wave of COVID has arrived, with cases almost exclusively coming from those who haven’t gotten a shot.
While the surges are alarming, Zients noted that several states with the highest proportion of new infections are now seeing higher vaccination rates than the nation as a whole – a sign that the threat of the fourth wave is finally hitting home.
It comes as officials in hard-hit states are ramping up calls for vaccinations – including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who on Thursday said ‘it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated’ for this wave of cases.
Cases in Florida have grown by 500 percent over the past two weeks
Cases in Missouri have grown by 108 percent over the past two weeks
Cases in Texas have grown by 162 percent over the past two weeks
Florida in particular accounts for nearly 20 percent of active cases.
The state recorded 12,647 new cases on Wednesday, the highest total the state has recorded since the massive winter wave of the virus.
Cases in the state have grown by nearly 500 percent in the past two weeks, with a seven day average of 1,493 new cases on July 6, and 8,912 on July 20.
A majority of the cases are among the unvaccinated as well.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (pictured) said that ‘it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated’ for the new wave of COVID-19 cases
‘If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals … over 95 percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all,’ Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.
‘These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.’
While DeSantis is a supporter of the vaccines, he has previously opposed vaccine mandates, even banning the use of vaccine passport in his state.
Florida has the most vaccinated population of any state in the south, though, with 56 percent of residents having received at least one shot of the virus.
The Indian Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the virus that originated in the south Asian nation, accounts for more than 80 percent of active cases in the state as well.
Missouri was one of the first states to get hammered by the new, Delta Variant led, COVID surge sweeping across the nation.
The southwestern region of the state in particular was hammered at the start of this month.
Mercy Health and CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri, the biggest city in the region, both were swamped with cases over July 4 weekend. Mercy in particular even faced ventilator shortages.
Missouri’s situation has only gotten worse since then as well.
Cases have more than doubled over the past two weeks, from 1,077 average new daily cases on July 8 to 2,244 average new cases on July 22 – a 108 percent increase.
More than half of active cases in the state are of the Delta variant.
Many cases in the state can also be tied to Branson, Missouri, a small tourist destination is the southwest of the state without a mask mandate.
Missouri has a vaccination rate of 47 percent, a figure that Republican Governor Mike Parson is trying to raise.
On Tuesday, Parson announced that Missouri would become the latest state to launch a vaccine lottery.
Over the next three months, $10,000 each will be awarded to 900 Missourians who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.
‘We understand that the some Missourians are hesitant towards getting the vaccine, but we must all take personal responsibility and do right by our own health and that of our friends and family by getting vaccinated,’ Governor Parson said during a news conference.
‘This new program will compliment our existing efforts to educate Missourians about the importance of getting the vaccine.
‘Our current COVID-19 situation is serious. This Delta variant transmits faster than what we have previously seen and is more likely to impact children and the unvaccinated, so now is the perfect opportunity to get vaccinated and earn your shot at $10,000.’
Similar programs were launched in other states like Ohio, and an analysis found that these programs did little to increase vaccination rates.
In Texas, cases have increased by 162 percent over the past two weeks, from an average of 1,486 cases a day on July 6 to 3,901 on July 20.
Around 70 percent of active cases are of the Delta variant.
Like the other states, those hit hardest by the case surge are the unvaccinated.
Half of Texans have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to official state data, only 43 out of over 9,000 deaths from the virus since February are among vaccinated people.
‘It’s not surprising that we have [increasing COVID-19] cases,’ Dr David Lakey, the chief medical officer of the University of Texas Hospital System, told the Texas Tribune.
‘This delta variant spreads very rapidly among individuals, and there’s only some of these individuals who have been vaccinated, and a small number of those will have severe disease. But the vast majority of the people that have severe disease will be the unvaccinated individuals.’
COVID-19 cases have increased by 312 percent in Alabama over the past two weeks
Mississippi, the least vaccinated state in America, has seen COVID cases grow by 241 percent over the last two weeks
Other southern states with low vaccination rates are getting hammered by the Delta variant as well.
Alabama, the state governed by Ivey, has seen its daily cases increase by 312 percent over the past two weeks, from 275 on July 8 to 1,133 on July 22.
At only 42 percent, Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Ivey has not presented any ideas for getting more of her residents vaccinated, though, snapping at a reporter who asked her how to get more Alabamans vaccinated with ‘I don’t know, you tell me.’
Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the country at only 38 percent.
Like the others, the Magnolia state is also experiencing a case surge, with a 241 percent increase over the past two weeks from 207 on July 8 cases to 707 on July 24.
Tennessee (44 percent vaccination rate), Arkansas (45 percent), Georgia (45 percent), Louisiana (40 percent) are also states in the southern region with low vaccination rates currently suffering from large COVID case surges.
Across the country, cases are spiking as well.
Over the past two weeks, cases have nearly tripled, growing from 16,181 average new cases on July 8 to 45,343 on July 22 – a 180 percent increase.