COVID-19: Cases and deaths increase with the rise of Delta variant
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the U.S. as fall approaches, and the biggest concern is children, according to health experts.
Staff video, USA TODAY
The U.S. is once again reporting more than 1,000 new coronavirus infections every hour, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data for the week ending Wednesday.
The nation is averaging about 25,300 new cases per day, more than double the 11,300 per day the week of June 22. The total rose in 48 states – all but Iowa and South Dakota. Still, the totals represent only about 10% of the numbers being reported in the worst week in January.
Deaths also rose in most states, and deaths and infections are also once again rising globally. The World Health Organization reported deaths climbed last week after nine straight weeks of decline. It recorded more than 55,000 lives lost, a 3% increase from the week before. Cases rose 10% last week to nearly 3 million, WHO said.
Low vaccination rates, the relaxation of mask rules and other precautions, and the swift spread of the more-contagious delta variant are blamed. Sarah McCool, a professor of public health at Georgia State University, said the combination amounts to a “recipe for a potential tinderbox.”
Also in the news:
►USA Basketball national team guard Bradley Beal, one of the NBA’s leading scorers, has been placed in health and safety protocols just days before the start of the Olympics, a person familiar with the development told USA TODAY Sports. His availability for the games was uncertain.
►Daily coronavirus cases in Britain have risen above 40,000 for the first time in nearly six months. The government warned that 100,000 daily infections may be possible this summer.
►Nebraska will resume reporting coronavirus statistics after dropping the practice a week ago after public health experts widely criticized the decision. The updates will be weekly rather than daily.
►New coronavirus cases leaped in New York in the week ending Sunday, rising 66% as 3,970 cases were reported, state and national records show.
►Johnson & Johnson said its one-dose shot protects against the delta variant and produces an immune response that lasts eight months and counting. The company announced the preprint study results earlier this month and published the interim study results in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
►With the Tokyo Olympics opening in just over a week, Tokyo reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in almost six months on Wednesday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 33.94 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 608,100 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 188.28 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 160 million Americans — 48.2% of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Thousands of schoolchildren on the Navajo Nation live without internet access, computers, cellular service or basics like electricity. When the pandemic hit, more than 23,398 Native American students in New Mexico lacked the high-speed internet and devices they needed for remote learning, the state’s Public Education Department concluded. The true number is significantly higher.
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Dr. Vivek Murthy issued his first advisory as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday warning of the “urgent threat of health misinformation” during the pandemic.
In the advisory, Murthy said misinformation and disinformation has contributed to a decline in COVID-19 vaccinations and an increase in violence against health officials and others enforcing social distancing protocols. About two-thirds of U.S. adults have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The advisory also lays out various steps individuals, families, educators, health professionals, journalists and tech companies, among others, can do to combat misinformation.
“Health misinformation is an urgent threat to public health. It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murthy said in a statement.
California has seen an uptick in cases throughout July, a 124% rise from two weeks ago, Los Angeles Times data reports. Los Angeles county itself has topped 1,000 cases for five straight days. And though hospitalizations remain low, they’re coming from a specific source.
“To date, we have not had a patient admitted to a (Department of Health Services) hospital who has been fully vaccinated, with either the J&J, Pfizer or Moderna vaccine,” county health services director Dr. Christina Ghaly said Tuesday. “Every single patient that we’ve admitted for COVID is not yet fully vaccinated.”
The DHS runs four hospitals in the area. More than 60% of California residents have been fully vaccinated, but vaccination rates have slowed in recent weeks.
The Tennessee Department of Health’s halt of vaccination outreach for adolescents is drawing nationwide attention. TDH’s new approach includes removing teens from postcards about vaccination doses, stopping COVID-19 vaccination events on school property and scrubbing the agency’s logo from certain documents that may be provided, according to an internal report and emails obtained by the Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network. This goes for all vaccines. Not just COVID-19.
Supporters stress that outreach will continue for parents. But Christopher Hale, a 2020 Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress, accused Gov. Bill Lee’s administration of “working hard today to make polio great again.”
“We’ve of course seen the reporting and coverage of this issue,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “We stand against any effort that would politicize our country’s pandemic response.”
Meanwhile, amid the scaling back of efforts on vaccination outreach, the rate of daily coronavirus infections in Tennessee has more than tripled in the past three weeks – one of the largest increases in the entire nation. Read more here.
– Daniella Medina and Brett Kelman, Nashville Tennessean
Indonesia reported more than 54,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time Wednesday, surpassing recent daily infections in India, whose disastrous outbreak is declining, and becoming Asia’s new virus hotspot. Officials fear that the more highly transmissible delta variant is now spreading from the islands of Java and Bali, where outbreaks prompted a partial lockdown that closed places of worship, malls, parks, and restaurants. The Health Ministry reported 54,517 new cases Wednesday; a month ago daily cases were running at about 8,000.
“I predict the outbreak will increase continuously in July as we are not able yet to prevent the spread of infections,” epidemiology expert Pandu Riono at the University of Indonesia said Wednesday. “Emergency social restrictions are still inadequate. They should be twice as stringent since we are facing the delta variant, which is two times more contagious.”
Contributing: Mike Stucka, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.