Local state officials are sounding the alarm over an increase in Covid-19 infections just as the nation prepares to celebrate a Fourth of July holiday that many hoped would mark the start of the resumption of normal life.
Nationally, the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases has been going up for six straight days, according to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. As of Thursday, the seven-day moving average of new cases — just more than 12,700 per day — was up 9.08% compared to the week prior.
In Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, cases are surging, officials said. In Los Angeles County, where the vaccination rate is slightly above the national average, officials warned about a possible new wave of infections, especially given the rapid spread of the Delta variant.
“We are now going in the wrong direction yet again with Covid-19 infections here in the state of Arkansas,” said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, during the state’s weekly briefing Tuesday. “With July 4th holiday coming up and eventually kids going back to school, we have to be concerned that this would be a trend that could continue. And if it does, it would appear that we may be in the beginning of the third surge of Covid-19 here in the state of Arkansas,” he said.
“Looking state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday. “This is all true as we monitor the continued spread of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant.”
Two-thirds of adults in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Thursday, CDC data shows. Over the past week, an average of 661,795 people became fully vaccinated daily. But even as vaccinations continue, the Delta variant could make it harder for the US to reach herd immunity, said Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Friday.
Some racial and ethnic minority groups have been extra affected by #COVID19. You can help create a healthier world for all.
Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Learn more: https://t.co/kS2PZwAVan.
— ADM Rachel Levine (@HHS_ASH) July 1, 2021
“We don’t exactly know what the herd immunity percentage would be for Covid-19. It would be different for the Delta variant, and higher, because it is more transmissible,” said Dr. Levine on CNN on Friday.
The Delta variant, first seen in India, has now spread to all 50 states and has accounted for more than 26% of cases as of June 19, according to the CDC’s calculations. People who are vaccinated are protected against the variant, Levine added, underscoring the fact that vaccinated individuals are “extremely unlikely to get sick” and that it would be virtually impossible for them to require hospitalizations. “For people who are unvaccinated, the Delta variant poses a threat,” Dr. Levine said. “So in areas that have low vaccination rates, those communities and counties and states are vulnerable.”
The Delta variant is more infectious than previous COVID strains. I teamed up with @GovLauraKelly to encourage all Kansans to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their loved ones safe this holiday weekend.
Watch our PSA:https://t.co/a9fyNESgt5
— Rep. Sharice Davids (@RepDavids) June 30, 2021
Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a glimmer of good news ahead of the July 4th holiday: Americans can celebrate with the proper precautions, he said. “That is, if you were vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection. If you are not, you should wear a mask, and you should think very seriously about getting vaccinated,” said Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Of the COVID-19 samples sequenced this week by KDHE, 100% were the Delta variant #ksleg
With 4th of July travel to Branson/MO coming up this seems to be a … not great trendline pic.twitter.com/6yjpZMZ3bd
— Andrew B-oohl 👻 (@AndrewBahl) July 2, 2021
Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, echoed Dr. Fauci’s advice. “It’s an appropriate time to step back and celebrate the progress we’ve made,” Zients said during a briefing.