US sees cases increase 224% in last three weeks and ‘Delta’ variant accounts for 83% of new infections
The Indian ‘Delta’ Covid variant now accounts for more than three quarters of all new cases in the US as the number of infections continues to rise across the country.
In testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Wednesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the variant is responsible for 83 percent of COVID-19 cases.
The figure is a significant increase compared to the 50 percent infections linked to the Delta variant two weeks ago.
It comes as the US registered 52,111 new cases Monday with a seven-day moving average of 34,682, up 224 percent from the average of 10,678 recorded three weeks ago.
Nearly every state — except Montana and Iowa — and the District of Columbia have seen infections rise in the past week, according to an analysis of Johns Hopkins data from DailyMail.com.
Meanwhile, as cases mount, daily COVID-19 vaccinations continue to decline, with the seven-day moving average dropping below 500,000 per day, from a high of 3.5 million in April.
The increase is attributed to the spread of the Delta variant in low vaccination coverage states such as Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri.
The US registered 52,111 new COVID-19 cases on Monday with a seven-day moving average of 34,682, up 224% from the average of 10,678 recorded three weeks ago.
Nearly every state — apart from Montana and Iowa — and the District of Columbia have seen infections rise in the past week
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday (above) that the Indian ‘Delta’ variant is spreading, accounting for 83% of all new infections, up from 50% two weeks ago.
The news of the spread of the Delta variant comes as the US renewed the order declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘public health emergency’ (PHE).
On Monday, Xavier Becerra, secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, signed the “public health emergency declaration,” which was last extended in April.
There are various provisions, emergency regulations and interim rules attached to the PBL declaration that cannot be carried out unless an extension is made.
This includes authorizing the federal government to direct certain funds to states and local jurisdictions; waives cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines; Medicare coverage of telehealth visits and deployment of military trauma care providers.
It also allows all three COVID-19 vaccines available in the US – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – to be distributed under emergency use authorization.
The extension will take effect from Tuesday and will last for 90 days, with plans to continue extending the order until the end of 2021.
“The PHE will likely remain in place throughout 2021, and when a decision is made to terminate or allow the statement to expire, HHS will give states 60 days notice of termination,” the then-acting HHS secretary Norris Cochran wrote in a letter back in January 2021.
Missouri remains one of the country’s COVID-19 epicenters, with an average 60 percent increase from 1,107 per day to 1,782 per day over the past two weeks, according to DailyMail.com’s analysis.
The state’s vaccination rate is behind the national average: 46 percent of residents have received at least one dose, and 40 percent are fully vaccinated.
In comparison, 56.1 percent of the US has received at least one dose and 48.6 percent is fully vaccinated.
The increase is due to the Delta variant, which has found acceptance in the southwestern part of the state, where rates of at least one vaccine dose are as low as 15 percent in some counties.
In Greene County, where Springfield is located, the health department reported 251 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals on Monday, according to the St. Louis after shipment.
This is the first time the numbers have surpassed last winter’s record of 237 patients reported on Dec. 1.
Doctors say many of their patients are between 20, 30 and 40 years old compared to previous peaks, and almost all of them are unvaccinated.
“There are so many COVID patients. They’re on so many different units,” Dr Rachel Keech, who was recently deployed to Mercy Hospital Springfield to treat patients, told the Post-Dispatch. “They’re everywhere.”
The average number of cases in Missouri has risen 60% in the past two weeks from 1,107 per day to 1,782 per day
In Arkansas, cases rose from an average of 602 a day two weeks ago to 974 a day on Monday, a 61% increase
Louisiana has seen its number of cases rise 115% from 650 to 1,398 per day in the past 14 days
In nearby Arkansas, cases rose from an average of 602 a day two weeks ago to 974 a day on Monday, a 61 percent increase, the DailyMail.com analysis shows.
According to the CDC, Arkansas has one of the worst rates in the country, with only 35.4 percent of residents fully vaccinated.
According to the state’s health ministry, 766 residents are hospitalized, an increase of 85 since Friday, and 124 are on a ventilator, an increase of five.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the largest hospital in the state, said: CBS News that all 23 COVID-19 beds are full with a total of 56 patients, some of whom will have to be housed in other wings.
“To put it in perspective, our team is now in the fourth quarter, or maybe even double overtime,” Dr Cam Patterson, chancellor of the medical center, told the network.
“This is not the first quarter for this team. They are tired. It is heavy.’
In nearby Louisiana, cases have jumped 115 percent in the past 14 days from 650 per day to 1,398 per day.
Louisiana has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country at about 36 percent fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
Hospitals across the state are seeing 711 patients hospitalized with the virus as of Monday, according to the Department of Health, the highest number since mid-February.
dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer of the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the state’s largest hospital, told the lawyer that 30 new patients were admitted on Saturday evening.
The hospital had to open an entirely new floor for COVID-19 patients, most of whom were under the age of 65 and not fully vaccinated.
“I want to be clear after seeing what I’ve seen over the past two weeks,” O’Neal said at a news conference Friday.
“We only have two choices: either get vaccinated and end the pandemic. Or we will accept death. Lots of it, this wave, and another wave, and possibly another variant.’