The U.S. has recorded more than 20,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the third day in a row, a threshold that has not been crossed since May.
Health officials say that the fast-spreading Delta variant first identified in India is racing through areas with low vaccination rates, eroding gains made in beating back the virus.
On Friday, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases was up 47 percent from two weeks ago, and hospitalizations were up 11 percent, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Around 93 percent of COVID-19 cases in recent days have occurred in counties with vaccination rates of less than 40 percent, CDC director Rochelle Walensky told a media briefing on Thursday.
The Delta variant (dark orange) now accounts for 80% of all new cases in the US heartland
People check in for their Covid-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic in an East Los Angeles neighborhood which has shown lower vaccination rates especially among the young on Friday
Preliminary data from recent months suggest 99.5 percent of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in unvaccinated people, she added.
‘Simply put: In areas of low vaccination coverage, cases and hospitalizations are up,’ Walensky said.
The CDC earlier this week said that the Delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain in the United States, accounting for more than half of all new cases.
In Missouri, the Delta variant now accounts for 96 percent of all new cases, and is driving a dangerous surge in the southwest part of the state.
This week, a federal COVID ‘surge team’ was dispatched to Springfield, Missouri in the heart of the hotspot.
Parts of central and northwest Arkansas are also seeing a surge in new cases.
On Friday, Arkansas added more than 1,000 coronavirus cases for the third day in a row, as the state topped the nation in new cases per capita.
Parts of Missouri and Arkansas are now seeing rapid outbreak driven by the Delta variant
The Delta variant, which is highly contagious, has also become dominant in other countries around the world.
Cases of COVID-19 are surging in U.S. counties with a total population of nine million people, Walensky said.
‘Low vaccination rates in these counties coupled with high case rates and lax mitigation policies that do not protect those who are unvaccinated from disease will certainly and sadly lead to more unnecessary suffering,’ she said.
Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Thursday as the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant cast doubts over an economic recovery.
The White House is concentrating federal assistance for vaccinating against and treating COVID-19 in states including Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada and Illinois, said Jeff Zients, who leads the White House’s COVID-19 response team.
The White House last week said it would send out special teams to hot spots around the United States to combat the Delta variant amid rising case counts in parts of the country.
The White House is also working to make COVID-19 vaccines available at doctors’ offices around the country, Zients added.
The Delta variant (dark orange) now accounts for more than half of all new cases nationwide
He said the spread of the Delta variant is particularly dangerous to young people. Research suggests it may cause more severe disease among younger people than other variants of the coronavirus.
Walensky added that the United States is seeing outbreaks of COVID-19 at summer camps and other community events.
She said that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested for the virus.
The United States had administered 332,966,409 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Friday morning and distributed 386,058,070 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Those figures are up from the 332,345,797 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by July 8 out of 385,495,790 doses delivered.
Pfizer plans to ask U.S. regulators to authorise a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine within the next month, the drugmaker’s top scientist said on Thursday, based on evidence of greater risk of re-infection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Pfizer’s own data from the United States showed an erosion of the vaccine’s efficacy after six months against the variants circulating there in the spring.