The highly infectious delta variant, which was first detected in India, now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In some areas, such as in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa, the strain accounts for over 80% of cases, NPR reports. In Western states, the strain is reportedly causing about 74.3% of active cases, and about 58.8% in some Southern states, like Texas and Oklahoma.
However, despite the surge of the delta variant, public health officials say vaccines have been effective in keeping serious disease, hospitalizations, and death at bay.
Officials continue to urge those who are unvaccinated — reportedly about 140 million to 150 million people — to get vaccinated.
Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, warned in an NPR article that the virus may surge again in the winter if a significant amount of people remain unvaccinated.
Read more from NPR here.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are going in the wrong direction. Cases are up in and around Dallas County in adults and in children. As of yesterday, hospitalizations have increased to 135 in the county and 468 in the region. This is the highest it’s been since mid-May. Many patients in the hospital are younger, 18-49 years old, and do not have underlying diseases. Almost none of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients have been vaccinated. Healthcare workers are very concerned about this trend. In addition to the increased number of individuals in the hospital, admissions have been going up as well, meaning that more people are cycling through the hospital with COVID. The Delta variant is increasing rapidly. It was only 12% of our COVID cases two months ago but is currently 37% of the cases in Texas. This and other variants are leading to the increase in cases. If you have not already gotten your vaccine, please get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement this week.
In other news:
- The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation has developed a COVID-19 vaccination and herd immunity dashboard to give Dallas County residents data about herd immunity levels, infections, vaccination rates, and corresponding demographic information. The dashboard can be accessed here.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated teachers and students do not need to wear masks at school. Read more from CNBC here.
- Pfizer and BioNtech announced they will begin to develop a booster shot for their COVID-19 vaccine amid rising concerns about the highly-contagious delta variant. Read more from CNBC here. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a statement on Thursday that those who are fully vaccinated are protected from all strains of COVID-19, including the delta variant, negating the need for a booster shot for now.