On Monday, the United States finally reached President Joe Biden’s goal of receiving at least one injection of COVID-19 in the arms of 70% of American adults, a month late and amid a fierce surge in the delta variant that is flooding hospitals and leading to a new mask. rules and mandatory vaccinations throughout the country.
Louisiana ordered nearly everyone, vaccinated or not, to return to wearing masks in all closed public settings, including schools and universities, and other cities and states also moved to reestablish precautions to counter a crisis attributed to the fast-spreading variant. and stubborn resistance to getting the vaccine.
“As quickly as we open units, they fill up with COVID patients,” lamented Dr. Sergio Segarra, medical director of Baptist Hospital Miami, where the Florida chain reported an increase of more than 140% in the last two weeks in the number people now hospitalized with the virus. “As soon as we can discharge them, they are coming in and they are very sick. We began to see entire families descend ”.
Biden had set a goal of hitting the 70% threshold by the July 4 holiday. But that goal was set long before the highly contagious delta variant allowed the virus to return and undermined the assumptions that were used to arrive at that figure.
There was no celebration at the White House on Monday, nor was a new goal set, as the administration struggles to overcome public resistance.
The 70% target marked the lower limit of initial government estimates of what would be necessary to achieve herd immunity in the US That has been rendered insufficient by the delta variant.
The United States has yet to meet the administration’s other goal of fully vaccinating 165 million American adults by July 4. Approximately 8.5 million are missing.
New cases per day in the US have increased six-fold over the past month to an average of nearly 80,000, a level not seen since mid-February. And deaths per day have risen in the past two weeks from an average of 259 to 360. They are still well below the 3,400 deaths and a quarter of a million cases per day seen during the worst outbreak in January.
Some parts of the country are experiencing recently confirmed infections, with the number of hospital cases reaching its highest levels since the pandemic began a year and a half ago. Almost all deaths and serious illnesses now occur in unvaccinated people.
The surge has prompted US states and cities to retreat, just weeks after it looked like the country was going to see a near-normal summer.
Health officials in San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties announced Monday that they will reinstate the requirement that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks in indoor public spaces.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York City airport and transit workers will need to be vaccinated or tested weekly. He stopped short of demanding masks or vaccines for the general public, saying he lacks the legal authority to do so.
Denver’s mayor said the city will require police officers, firefighters and some other city employees to get vaccinated, along with workers in schools, nursing homes, hospitals and jails.
Minnesota public colleges and universities will require masks on campus regardless of vaccination status. And New Jersey said workers in state nursing homes, mental hospitals and other similar institutions should be vaccinated or tested regularly.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said a nationwide vaccination requirement “is not on the table,” but noted that employers have the right to take that step as they see fit.
In Florida, it took two months last summer for the number of people in the hospital with the coronavirus to jump from 2,000 to 10,000. This summer, it took Florida hospitals just 27 days to see that same increase, said Mary Mayhew, president of the Florida Hospital Association.
He also noted that this time, 96% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated and are much younger, many of them in their 20s and 30s.
While setting a national vaccination goal may have been helpful in trying to build enthusiasm for vaccines, the 70% of Americans receiving just one vaccine would never be enough to avoid sudden spikes among unvaccinated groups. And when he announced the goal, Biden acknowledged that it was just a first step.
It is the level of vaccinations in a community, not a broad national average, that can delay an outbreak or allow it to flourish. Vaccination rates from region to region differ enormously, and some places are much more vulnerable than others.
Vaccination rates in some southern states are much lower than in New England. Vermont has fully inoculated nearly 78% of its adult population. Alabama just went bankrupt 43%.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism