US COVID-19 cases rise, likely due to Delta variant

COVID molecular test
COVID molecular test

Pedro França, Agência Senado / Flickr cc

After weeks of substantial decreases, COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise again in the United States, likely due to infections caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant (B1617.2). The increase is seen most prominently in Southern and Western states, and communities with low vaccination rates.

According to data from the Washington Post, new daily cases in the United States have risen by 14.8% over the past 7 days, with significant increases in Nevada (55%), Wyoming (18%), Missouri (20%), and Arkansas (55%). New daily deaths still fell by 0.7% over the past week, and COVID-related hospitalizations fell by 4.7%.

In Los Angeles, city health officials are recommending that people wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, the Associated Press reports, because of the growing threat from the Delta variant. (The World Health Organization recommended last Friday that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors.)

Los Angeles county has recorded a total of 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 24,000 deaths from COVID-19 since March of 2020.

The United States reported 15,083 new COVID-19 cases and 150 deaths yesterday, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total the United States has confirmed 33,645,904 cases of COVID-19, including 604,279 deaths—the most recorded deaths in the world.

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Four in 10 Americans say celebrating the Fourth of July feels risky this year, about half as many as a year ago, according to the latest Axios/Ipsos poll. Fifty-five percent of respondents say they're wearing masks all or some of the time when they leave the home, the lowest number since April 2020.

The confidence comes as more Americans get vaccinated against the novel virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows 381,282,720 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States and 324,414,371 have been administered. Overall, 66.1% of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 153,776,118 of the country's total population is fully vaccinated.

But vaccinating at-risk communities continues to be a struggle. In California, the vaccination campaign has largely stagnated in Black and Latino communities hit hardest by the pandemic, and in rural areas where vaccine opposition is rampant, Kaiser Health News reports. Nearly 60% of Californians are fully vaccinated, but only 39% of eligible Black residents and 40% of Latinos had been vaccinated as of last Friday.

Black, Hispanic students have less access to in-person learning

In addition to being more affected by the pandemic than White Americans, Black and Hispanic families were less likely to be able to access in-person schooling by April of 2021, according to a new study from the CDC published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The study showed that, while 75% of White students had access to in-person school by April, only 63% of Black students and 59% of Hispanic students had access to full-time, in-person instruction.

"In 43 states, access to full-time in-person learning was higher for non-Hispanic White students compared with students of color. The District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Wyoming, and Montana had the lowest disparity; Ohio and Pennsylvania had the highest," the authors found, when comparing data from 1,200 US school districts with National Center for Education Statistics demographics.

The authors said school districts must do everything possible to open for in-person instruction, as evidence is mounting that distance learning negatively impacts both academic gains and the mental health of K-12 students, especially students in grades K-5.

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