The highly contagious Delta variant has caused a dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. This surge is assumed to worsen by health experts and officials due to the fact that large portions of the US remain unvaccinated. In fact, as the pandemic and vaccination have become highly politicized in the US, Southern states of the US are the areas of particular concern since vaccination rates in the South have lagged behind other states. To help, officials are urging residents to get vaccinated as the Delta variant is more transmissible than earlier strains.
Unvaccinated individuals and those that have skipped their second dose of the vaccine are at much higher risk. Recent data from the CDC has shown, though, that vaccination rates are increasing, particularly in states where vaccination rates were previously the lowest. An average of 652, 084 doses (first or second doses) were administered over the week of 25 July 2021-- roughly a 27% increase in the average of the week before. As of the morning of 30 July 2021, 49.5% of the US population and 57.9% of all people eligible for vaccination were fully vaccinated according to the CDC.
The extremely contagious nature of the Delta variant has led to officials pushing for all Americans to be vigilant, regardless of vaccination status. While indoor transmission of the virus is the main challenge, COVID-19 transmissions have been seen in outdoor settings, causing mask mandates to return in more cities. The CDC has even changed its mask use guidance: vaccinated individuals are to continue to wear a mask indoors in areas with the considerable transmission of the virus.
Even more concerning, a recent study has shown the Delta variant to be as destructive in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, producing similar amounts of the virus. Averages for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have risen substantially from a 2021 low in late June, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the Department of Health and Human Services respectively. Despite this, those who are vaccinated are often affected far less seriously by COVID-19.
ICUs are filling up rapidly as the Delta variant spreads. Hospitalizations are seen largely in unvaccinated individuals and are being seen increasingly in younger age groups. Data shows that the hospitalization of unvaccinated individuals is affecting older, vaccinated individuals as well.