FRIDAY, July 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — In a sign that vaccine-hesitant Americans are starting to worry about the rapid spread of the highly infectious delta variant, vaccinations are beginning to rise in some states where COVID-19 cases are soaring, White House officials said Thursday.
The variant, which first emerged in India, now accounts for an estimated 83 percent of coronavirus samples genetically identified in the United States. It is the predominant strain in every region of the country and continues “spreading with incredible efficiency,” Rochelle Walensky, M.D., head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters at the White House on Thursday. She called the delta variant “one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of.”
COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada as examples, the Associated Press reported.
On Thursday, Louisiana reported 2,843 new COVID-19 cases, one day after reporting 5,388 new infections — the third-highest level since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations are also up steeply in the last month, from 242 on June 19 to 913 in the latest report, the AP said. Just 36 percent of Louisiana’s population is fully vaccinated, state health department data show. Warner Thomas, president and CEO of the Ochsner Health system serving Louisiana and Mississippi, told the AP that the system had seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in people seeking vaccination during the past week or two.
Missouri, which is second only to Arkansas and Louisiana in the number of new cases per capita over the past 14 days, lags about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have received at least one shot. The case surge that began in the Southwest part of that state has started to spread to the Kansas City area, including at Research Medical Center.
“I don’t want to keep putting my life on the line just because people don’t want to get vaccinated or listen to what health care professionals are recommending,” Pascaline Muhindura, a registered nurse who has worked on the hospital’s COVID-19 unit for more than a year, told the AP. “A lot of them don’t even believe in COVID-19 to begin with. It is incredibly frustrating. You are helping someone that doesn’t even believe that the illness that they have is real.”
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