Cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have doubled in just three weeks. The rise is being driven by the highly contagious delta variant. Los Angeles County is now requiring people to wear masks indoors, even if they’re vaccinated.
Hot spots are emerging in parts of the country where vaccination rates are particularly low. That includes Missouri, Arkansas and all of the Gulf Coast states, where vaccination rates are below 40%.
Shalina Chatlani, with the Gulf States Newsroom in New Orleans, reports that we’re seeing the start of a delta variant-driven surge in Mississippi and the Gulf. Hospitalizations there are up 36% in the past two weeks.
There have been outbreaks in summer camps, schools and churches, which means kids are getting the virus and are spreading it.
Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer in Mississippi, tells Chatlani that there’s an increased sense of urgency.
“I don’t think that we’re going to have some miraculous increase in our vaccination rate over the next few weeks. So people are going to die needlessly.”
One health official in Missouri tweeted that the new cases in Missouri are “Sicker, younger, quicker.” That’s also something Katie Towns, the acting director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department in southwest Missouri, is seeing.
Arkansas is also seeing a sharp surge. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an Arkansas Department of Health epidemiologist, said in a powerful interview with Morning Edition on Friday that large numbers of people still refuse to get vaccinated. She called the situation “very serious” and said some hospitals in Arkansas are full.