Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased sharply due to the spread of the delta variant—and in states that are facing especially acute surges, daily vaccination rates have doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled.
Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations climb
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday said Covid-19 cases nationwide have surpassed last summer's peak, with a seven-day average of 72,000 new Covid-19 cases each day—although case levels are still much lower than their all-time highs earlier this year.
In San Francisco, at least 233 staff members at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the hospitals, the majority of those staff members were fully vaccinated.
Two of the staff members, both at UCSF Medical Center, have been hospitalized. According to Lukejohn Day, CMO at San Francisco General, without vaccinations, more staff members would have been hospitalized.
"We're concerned right now that we're on the rise of a surge here in San Francisco and the Bay Area," he said. "But what we're seeing is very much what the data from the vaccines showed us: You can still get Covid, potentially. But if you do get it, it's not severe at all."
Meanwhile, Covid-19 hospitalizations nationwide are rising, with more than 40,000 patients hospitalized with the disease, Axios reports.
In a tweet, Eric Topol, EVP of Scripps Research, said Covid-19 hospitalizations have reached their highest point since February and "clearly will surpass waves one and two."
Florida in particular is seeing high rates of Covid-19 hospitalizations, leading the largest hospital systems in the state to limit visitors, increase the size of their Covid-19 units, and prepare for staffing shortages, Axios reports.
Vaccine demand increases
Meanwhile, vaccination rates are rising in the United States. On Monday, the country—about one month late—hit President Joe Biden's July 4 goal of having at least 70% of the country partially vaccinated, according to the White House Covid-19 data director.
Demand for vaccines has especially increased in states where Covid-19 is surging. According to Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy White House press secretary, for three consecutive weeks, the states with the highest number of Covid-19 cases have also had the highest rates of new vaccinations.
"In the states with the highest case rates, daily vaccination rates have more than doubled," Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said.
For example, in Mississippi, the seven-day average of first vaccine doses administered was 5,203 on July 27, more than triple the state's average on July 1, according to CDC.
And in Louisiana, vaccination rates nearly quadrupled between July 1 and July 28, while in Missouri, the daily rate of those receiving their first dose of a vaccine nearly doubled over a month, the New York Times reports. In addition, vaccination rates in Alabama have increased 215%, while rates in Arkansas have increased 206%, according to Zients.
Bertha Hidalgo, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said the increase in vaccination rates is definitely an improvement, even if it is occurring later than public health officials had hoped.
"It's not as optimal as we would like, but anything that trends in the positive direction with respect to vaccination is fantastic," Hidalgo said. "It's absolutely not too late because delta is, unfortunately, likely not the only variant that we may see unless we continue to increase vaccination rates."
"This increase in vaccination rates in states that have been lagging is a positive trend. Americans are seeing the risk and impact of being unvaccinated and responding with action," Zients said. "And that's what it's going to take to get us out of this pandemic." (Owens, Axios, 8/3; Medina, New York Times, 7/31 ; Medina, New York Times, 7/31 ; Chen, Axios, 8/2; Weixel, The Hill, 8/2)