A man will be vaccinated against COVID-19 at a vaccination festival in New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, on May 28, 2021.
Lan Wei | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
More and more people who were once hesitant in several southern states are now getting their first vaccinations as the Delta-Covid variant is tearing through areas of the United States with low vaccination rates.
Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama have more than doubled the seven-day average of daily first-doses reported since early July, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows, as the outbreak worsened nationwide.
Over the same period, the average daily caseload increased from about 13,000 per day across the country to about 94,000 per day on Aug. 4, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with the overwhelming majority of new infections below those who are unvaccinated .
“Americans are clearly seeing the effects of not being vaccinated and unprotected, and they are responding by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated,” White House Covid Tsar Jeff Zients said Thursday to reporters.
In Arkansas, which has the third worst outbreak in the country, based on new cases per capita every day, vaccinations nearly tripled. On July 1, the state administered a seven-day average of 2,893 first doses in the arms, which, according to a CNBC analysis of CDC data, represented new people receiving their first shots. By August 4, that number had increased to a seven-day average of 8,585 first doses per day.
Mississippi, which saw the fourth worst outbreak in the country, saw its first doses given since early July increased 178% through August 4. Louisiana saw a 128% increase and Alabama, which hosted the fifth worst outbreak nationwide, saw a 109% increase.
Louisiana is experiencing the worst per capita outbreak of new Covid cases in the country, recording hospital admissions after the Delta variant targeted the state’s mostly unvaccinated population.
The state governor has reintroduced a mask mandate until at least September 1 to slow down the transmission. Despite the recent surge in vaccinations, Louisiana still ranks fifth in the country for fully vaccinated residents at 37.2%.
“The COVID-19 vaccination rate in Louisiana is not where we need it and that, when combined with the Delta variant, has resulted in the perfect storm we’re seeing right now,” said Mindy Faciane, Public Information Officer at the Department of Health Louisiana across from CNBC.
Behind Louisiana is Arkansas with 37% of the fully vaccinated population, Wyoming with 36.7%, Mississippi with 34.8% and Alabama with 34.6%, according to CDC data.
Covid cases with serious consequences are also increasing, according to US officials. The seven-day average of daily hospital admissions is up 41% from a week, with the average daily death toll up 39%, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Thursday.
Studies have shown that the Delta variant is much more transmissible than the original Covid strain and, unlike the original, requires two doses of vaccine so that the body has a chance to fight against infection and severe symptoms.
“Even if someone decided to get the vaccine today, it will be some time before their body and immune system are able to cope with it,” said Gigi Gronvall, immunologist and senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety. said CNBC. “You want to make sure you aren’t exposed before your body has a chance to turn the virus off.”
Still, residents in severely affected states who start vaccinating will help slow the spread of the virus sooner rather than later and could prevent future hospitalizations and deaths.
“People are seeing how this is affecting their communities and they are actively changing their minds to get the vaccine,” Faciane said. “Our vaccination rate is going through the roof right now.”
Patients of different ages hospitalized with Covid in states like Missouri, Florida, Arkansas, and Louisiana regret having refused the vaccination initially and are asking their communities to get vaccinated.
Overall, the US reported an average of about 677,000 daily vaccinations last week (as of August 4), up 11% from a week.
The number of first vaccine doses increases faster than the overall rate. According to the CDC, an average of about 446,000 first doses were given daily for the past seven days, 17% more than the week before.