(CNN) — The delta variant is wreaking havoc across much of the United States, but the “silver lining” is that more Americans appear to be at the tipping point in understanding the importance of covid-19 vaccination, one expert said.
“People are realizing this,” National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN on Sunday. “That’s what must desperately happen if we want to put this delta variant in place, because right now it’s having a big party in the middle of the country.”
In the past two weeks, daily case rates have quadrupled, Collins said. This increase occurs when the delta variant spreads and the percentage of vaccinated Americans hovers around 49.6%, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hospitals have been overflowing with patients as the virus spreads among the unvaccinated population.
Experts say the path to protecting Americans and slowing or stopping the spread of the virus is clear: vaccines. More than 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have not had a major case that has resulted in hospitalization or death, according to the latest data from the CDC.
And while vaccination rates have slowed since the initial rush for inoculation, as the pandemic worsens once again, rates are increasing.
On Saturday, more than 816,000 doses of the covid-19 vaccine were administered in the United States, marking the fifth consecutive day that more than 700,000 doses were administered, according to the CDC. The current seven-day average of doses administered is 662,529 per day, the highest average since July 7.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attributed the increase to two likely factors: trusted leaders coming out in support of vaccines and people seeing how much better communities vaccinated against are doing. virus, he told CBS on Sunday.
In Florida, where nearly 1 in 5 new cases of covid are reported in the US, AdventHealth Central Florida clinical director Dr. Neil Finkler said none of his patients thought they would contract the virus.
“The delta variant has proven to be so contagious that even the young and healthy, including pregnant patients, are beginning to fill our hospitals,” Finkler said.
The race to vaccinate people
Despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases, Fauci told ABC on Sunday that he believes there is enough community protection to prevent the country from having to implement lockdown measures again.
“I think we have enough percentage of people in the country, not enough to squash the outbreak, but I think we have enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter,” he said.
But things are likely to get worse for the unvaccinated, Fauci warned.
“We expect some pain and suffering in the future because we are seeing the cases increase,” he told ABC.
And while it is the unvaccinated who are likely to experience the brunt of this pain and suffering, Fauci noted that the options of the unvaccinated have an impact on the overall situation in the community.
“When there are unvaccinated people who become infected, the dynamics of the outbreak is spreading, which ultimately impacts everyone from the point of view of having to wear masks, from the point of view of the safety of children in schools, from the point of view of being able to open everything the way it was when we were normal, “he said.
To address the overall impacts, many officials have been increasing vaccination efforts in under-vaccinated communities.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Sunday that his state is experiencing “a significant increase” in vaccination rates, particularly in rural areas.
“I think … the fear of the delta variant is definitely one of the causes,” DeWine told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
DeWine said the state is now targeting outreach efforts to the Medicaid population, who it said are “under-vaccinated,” through incentives such as $ 100 cash prizes for receiving the vaccine.
DeWine said the state’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery program also played a role in reversing a downward trend in holiday rates.
“We believe that more than 100,000 additional people were vaccinated, at a minimum, because of that,” DeWine said. “It was very, very successful. It was something that worked and, you know, we’re glad we did.”
DeWine said that despite the state’s progress on vaccines, “we have room to grow.”
Hospitals overwhelmed with patients
The increase in COVID-19 patients in hospitals could have an impact on other people in need of medical care, the doctors said.
In Austin, Texas, “our ICU capacity is reaching a critical point where the level of risk for the entire community has increased significantly, and not just for those who need treatment for covid,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, from the Austin-Travis County Health Authority, in a statement.
“If we don’t come together as a community now, we are putting the lives of loved ones who might need intensive care at risk.”
In Mississippi, COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen significantly, even among the youngest patients, state health official Thomas Dobbs said. All 88 beds in the intensive care unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center had been filled by Friday, according to data from the state health department.
And in Louisiana, “we are becoming victims of the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Christopher Thomas, an intensive care physician at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
“We are currently exceeding our bed capacity. We are causing burnout for our teams. And honestly, we are beginning to impact the rest of the community’s healthcare.”
At the Louisiana hospital, 97% of COVID-19 patients in the ICU were not vaccinated, Thomas said. As of Friday, the average age of COVID-19 patients in the ICU was 48 years old.
“That means there are children, with their parents, who are now in the hospital,” he said.
CNN’s Holly Yan, Aya Elamroussi, Nadia Kounang, Deidre McPhillips, and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism