Two maps have shown just how contagious the Delta variant of Covid-19 is and what happens when people are left unvaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US ranks the level of community transmission in counties and states by four levels: low (blue), moderate (yellow), substantial (orange) and high (red).
At the start of July, most parts of California on the west coast, the state of New York and Alaska were coloured blue and yellow. This suggested the community transmission in these states, and a number of others, was either moderate or low. There were some substantial and high states though, including most of Florida, parts of Texas and Arizona.
In an alarming trend, within the space of a month almost the entire map of the US is now coloured red or orange. The only real swathes of blue are in Nebraska.
Despite some areas in Michigan having splotches of blue, it's now considered to be a state with moderate levels of community transmission. Every other state is high except for Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, which now all have substantial levels.
The “sharp turn”, according to CNN, means 98 per cent of residents now live in a place where community transmission is substantial or worse. That is up from 19 per cent in July. Only three US territories have low transmission.
Alabama and Mississippi have the lowest vaccination rates in the country: less than 35% of residents are fully inoculated, according to the Mayo Clinic. Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas are all in the lowest 15 states.
Alabama saw more than 65,000 doses wasted because health providers couldn’t find people to take them before they expired, according to State Health Officer Scott Harris. That represents less than 1.5 per cent of the more than five million coronavirus vaccines doses that Alabama has received.
Issues with vaccines, hospitals struggle
The CDC on Wednesday said only 23 per cent of pregnant women have received one dose or more.
“The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from Covid-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,” CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
Hospitals are also struggling to keep up.
Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oregon all have more people hospitalised with Covid-19 than at any other point in the pandemic, and nursing staffs are badly strained.
In Florida, virus cases have filled so many hospital beds that ambulance services and fire departments are straining to respond to emergencies. Some patients wait inside ambulances for up to an hour before hospitals in St. Petersburg, Florida, can admit them — a process that usually takes about 15 minutes, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said.
One person who suffered a heart attack was bounced from six hospitals before finding an emergency room in New Orleans that could take him in, Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s chief public health officer, said.
“It’s a real dire situation,” Mr Kanter said.
“There’s just not enough qualified staff in the state right now to care for all these patients.”
The US government’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci is hoping the Federal Drug Administration will green light Pfizer.
The FDA has only granted emergency-use approval of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but the agency is expected to soon give full approval to Pfizer.
“I hope — I don’t predict — I hope that it will be within the next few weeks. I hope it’s within the month of August,” Dr Fauci said.
“If that’s the case, you’re going to see the empowerment of local enterprises, giving mandates that could be colleges, universities, places of business, a whole variety and I strongly support that. The time has come. ... We’ve got to go the extra step to get people vaccinated.”
More than 70 per cent of Americans have received one or more doses of Covid-19 vaccine while 50 per cent are fully immunised.
with The Associated Press
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