Nearly all US COVID-19 deaths now preventable

Empty hospital bed
Empty hospital bed

Patrik Slezak / iStock

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest in March of 2020 in the United States, nearly all of the deaths recorded in recent weeks were preventable, occurring in unvaccinated Americans.

According to an Associated Press analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from May, only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people, or less than 1%. This translates to 5 deaths per day attributed to fully vaccinated Americans experiencing breakthrough infections, and roughly 300 deaths per day in the unvaccinated.

Vaccination has also reduced US hospitalizations significantly: Fully vaccinated people made up less than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in May.

The United States reported 12,830 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 341 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the nation has confirmed 33,593,763 cases, including 603,238 deaths.

1 in 10 skip second vaccine dose

The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows 379,248,700 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 320,687,205 have been administered, with 151,252,034 Americans fully vaccinated (65.7% of adults have at least one dose).

About 95% of vaccinated Americans have used a two-dose mRNA vaccine, either one from Pfizer or Moderna. The vaccination is considered complete 2 weeks after the second dose of vaccine is administered, but more than 1 in 10 people who have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have missed their second dose, according to CDC data shared with CNN.

Experts have warned that only one dose of mRNA vaccine offers limited protection against new variants, including the Delta variant (B1617.2).

Southern states continues to lag behind Northern and Midwestern states in terms of vaccination rates. Six of the bottom eight states with the lowest vaccination rates in the country are in the South, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee.

Louisiana, which has vaccinated just 34% of its population, has become the latest state to use a lottery prize to entice people to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the New York Times reports.

The state will offer a total of $2.3 million in cash prizes and scholarships over a month.

Strain on public health workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has impaired the mental health of public health workers, according to a study today in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A total of 26,174 state, tribal, local, and territorial public health workers were surveyed on mental health in the past 2 weeks, and 53% reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition.

Of the 53%, 32% reported symptoms of depression, 30.3% anxiety (30.3%), 36.8% post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 8.4% suicidal ideation. Public health workers younger than 30 were most likely to report mental health symptoms.

"Most (92.6%) respondents reported working directly on COVID-19 response activities; the majority (59.2%) worked ≥41 hours in a typical week since March 2020," the authors wrote.

"The prevalences of all four mental health outcomes and the severity of symptoms of depression or PTSD increased as the percentage of work time spent directly on COVID-19 response activities and number of work hours in a typical week increased."

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