As the Delta variant of the coronavirus races across the United States, the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has risen to 100,000, the highest since January when the pandemic peaked in the US.
Numbers show a grim picture emerging, with about 25,000 people currently in intensive care and daily deaths reaching an average of 364 nationwide, according to data gathered by The Washington Post newspaper and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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A crush of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 has filled intensive care units (ICUs) to capacity in states like Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Arkansas where the rate of infection is high and vaccination rates are low.
Despite the US government’s massive push to vaccinate all adult Americans, 39 percent of the US residents have not had their first jab, according to data from the CDC.
Hospital staff nationwide are beginning to feel the strain of the resurgent virus with more than 77 percent ICU beds now occupied in the US, according to data collected by the Axios news outlet. Hospitals are admitting 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily, according to the CDC.
US public officials and private sector leaders are increasingly imposing vaccine requirements on employees. More than 800 US colleges and universities and more than 200 healthcare employers and private businesses, many state and local governments have adopted vaccination requirements, a White House official said.
“Together these vaccination requirements add up to make a big difference helping protect tens of millions Americans at school, in healthcare settings and at sporting events,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zeints said on Friday.
Vaccination rates are increasing in the US as 1.1 million people per day are getting vaccinated, said Zeints, who cited “a real acceleration of first doses that we’ve seen across” the last several weeks that is “very encouraging”.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Thursday required everyone to wear masks indoors and mandated vaccines for all public school university teachers and administrators.
Today, I'm announcing a series of additional vaccine requirements aimed at protecting our most vulnerable residents, unvaccinated children and their families, and the ability of hospital systems to handle the #DeltaVariant surge in Illinois. pic.twitter.com/2UNxgcPNEo
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) August 26, 2021
The surge in infections is being caused by the Delta variant and the vast majority of hospitalisations and deaths in the state are among unvaccinated people, Pritzker said at a news conference announcing the new requirements.
“You don’t need to be an epidemiologist to understand what’s going on here. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Pritzker said.
Amid evidence the resistance of infection provided by vaccines starts to fade after a period of time, US health officials have recommended that people get booster jabs.
Regulators could approve a third COVID-19 shot for adults beginning at least six months after full vaccination, instead of a previously announced eight-month gap, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The resurgence of COVID-19 is starting to affect President Joe Biden’s political standing with the American public, a Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.
A national poll conducted from August 13 to 19 found that Biden’s net approval among independents – a key group Democrats need to hold seats in Congress in 2022 – dropped by 14 percentage points overall since June, and by 19 points for his handling of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
The US suffered 633,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic started and is projected to see 50,000 to 100,000 more deaths over the next three months, depending on vaccination acceptance, social distancing practices and mask-wearing, according to the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.