While much of the country is settling into the “new normal” following the rise and fall of the COVID-19 crisis, the Delta variant is proving to be the one variable Americans still have to contend with.
Concerns are rising across the country about the variant after the US has seen a spike in daily COVID-19 cases from approximately 11,300 in late June to nearly 24,000 as of Monday, July 12, according to Johns Hopkins University.
According to health officials, the reason for the rise in cases is largely due to the Delta variant, which now makes up the majority of new COVID-19 infections, largely in areas that have shown a hesitancy to get the vaccine.
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“When the Delta strain appeared, it rapidly became the dominant strain,” pediatric infectious-disease expert Dr. Andrew T. Pavia told CNBC.
Pavia said that in the last week of data, the Delta variant has accounted for more than 80 percent of new infections.
“If you think about what it means to have a virus take over that rapidly, it means that it is the most fit virus, that it is spreading more efficiently, that it is spreading in pockets that are unvaccinated, and it’s causing a lot of disease and a lot of stress.”
The rise in new COVID-19 cases has conversely led to a rise in hospitalization rates, which have also been climbing, officials said.
“After several weeks of declining numbers of cases, followed by a long plateau, we are seeing an increase in the number of cases in many parts of the country now,” Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC said this week.
A recent report found that 463 counties in the US are reporting at least 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, more than double the national average. Of those counties, 80 percent have vaccinated less than 40 percent of their residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Federal health officials said this week that 99.5 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are happening among the unvaccinated population.
“There will continue to be an increase in cases among unvaccinated Americans and in communities with low vaccination rates,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said this week. “Particularly given the spread of the more transmissible delta variant.”
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