The Delta variant is now the most common strain of new COVID-19 cases in California.
The contagious strain of the virus, which originated in India, is slowly taking over the United States, causing massive outbreaks in multiple areas, including the nation’s most populous state.
California joins a handful of other states that have experienced surges of the variant of their own in the days leading up to the July 4 holiday.
American health officials have warned of the Delta variant’s spread for weeks now, with Dr Anthony Fauci going as far as saying it could create ‘two different Americas’ between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Concerns over a drop-off in vaccinations were heightened by the country’s failure to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults with at least one vaccine dose by July 4.
Officials nationwide have ramped up efforts to increase vaccination rates in response to the growing threat of the Delta variant. West Virginia Gov Jim Justice, whose state has only vaccinated 44 percent of residents, said over the weekend that not being vaccinated at this point was playing the ‘death lottery’.
He also said during an appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week’ that many people dying may be the only thing that convinces people in the state to get the shots.
The Delta variant – which originated in India – is now the dominant COVID strain in California. It will likely soon be the dominant strain around the country
Data from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reveals that 35.6 percent of cases recorded in the Golden State in June were of the Delta variant.
That is a six-fold increase over May, where it accounted for only 5.6 percent of cases.
‘The rapid increase in the Delta variant suggests that this strain is more easily transmitted between people than other strains circulating in California,’ the CDPH told the Los Angeles Times.
Total cases in the state did decreased over that time span, though, from averaging around 10,000 cases a week at the end of May to 7,000 a week at the end of June – a drop of approximately 30 percent.
Other places that have been struck by the variant have not been as lucky so far, and data from elsewhere indicates that unvaccinated pockets of California could soon see a surge in COVID cases.
The United Kingdom, as an example, suffered a massive swell of cases in June, and it is believed that over 90 percent of new cases are of the Delta variant.
At the start of June, the U.K. was averaging 3,300 cases a day.
That number has shot up to 24,000 cases per day as of this week – a 627 percent increase.
The Indian-born strain of the virus is making its presence felt stateside as well.
New daily cases in Utah have doubled since the start of June – from around 200 per day on June 1 to 400 per day on July 4.
In Missouri, cases have doubled as well since the start of last month, from around 400 per day to around 800 per day.
During that span in Nevada, cases have increased by 177 percent – from 180 new cases a day at the start of June to around 500 new cases a day to start July.
Arkansas has become one of the country’s COVID-19 hotspots, growing from around 150 cases per day in early June to around 475 new cases per day to kick off July – a 216 percent increase.
The Bear state is in a particularly worrying situation, with only 42 percent of its population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
That is the seventh lowest total for any U.S. state.
For comparison, the U.S leader, Vermont, has given 74 percent of its population at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
While not much is known about the Delta variant, health officials are confident that the currently available set of vaccines are effective in combatting it.
This leaves America at risk of splitting into two portions.
Areas with higher vaccination rates will not be effected heavily by the variant.
Meanwhile, enclaves of the nation with lower vaccination rates – specifically those in the U.S. south and the northwestern plains – could be ravaged by the highly contagious variant.
Mississippi (36 percent of the population vaccinated), Louisiana (39), Alabama (40), Tennessee (42) and Georgia (43) in the south all have vaccination rates well below the 55 percent national average, meaning parts of the state could be overwhelmed.
Wyoming (39), Idaho (40) and North Dakota (44) are experiencing similar problems in the great plains as well.
Low vaccination rates are not because of a lack of supply, as the country sits on the largest stockpile of vaccines in the world.
Instead, many are hesitant to receive the vaccine.
A poll by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed last month that nearly a quarter of Americans under 40 have no intention of receiving the vaccine.
The main reasons they cited for not wanting the vaccine included concerns over potential vaccine side effects and a general mistrust of the vaccines.
Side effects of the COVID vaccine often include a headache, fatigue, chills and other common symptoms of respiratory illness.
More serious side effects have been discovered, though.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine had its authorization paused earlier this year after reports of it causing blood clots in 17 people.
There was also a recent report by the CDC that some young males were experiencing heart inflammation after receiving the second dose of a two-shot vaccine.
Still, though, experts recommend Americans to receive any of the available vaccines at the earliest opportunity.
Gov Jim Justice of West Virginia said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ that anyone who is still refusing to get vaccinated is playing the ‘death lottery’
An analysis by the Associated Press found that 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths across the country in May were among unvaccinated people.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, even went as far as saying ‘nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19, is, at this point, entirely preventable.’
Dr Fauci predicted two weeks ago that the Delta variant would soon be the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert encourages Americans to get vaccinated in order to maintain the relatively low case numbers being posted nationwide at the moment.
Currently, the U.S. is averaging just under 85,000 new cases of COVID every week, and June was the month with the fewest amount of new cases since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The Delta variant could be a setback to that progress if more Americans do not get vaccinated, though.