The unusually dangerous Delta variant of COVID-19 now causes the most infections of any variant in America. Wednesday the CDC said it represents more than half of all new cases. Because of this, people in some parts of the nation, particularly where vaccination rates are low, face a high risk of rising cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.
Before the Delta variant became widespread in the U.S., there was a growing sense that the COVID-19 was under control and that cases and deaths would continue to fall as they had most weeks for months. However, the U.S. numbers remain staggeringly bad. Some 611,547 people have died in the United States, which is 15% of the global total. Total confirmed cases in America so far number 33,899,904, about 18% of the world number.
One reason the spread of the disease had slowed is a tremendous drive toward high vaccination levels. Fifty-eight percent of Americans over 18 have been vaccinated. In several states, that number is over 60%. Vaccine hesitancy and difficulty reaching areas with low population density have caused extremely poor rates in several states, particularly in the South. The figure in Mississippi is only 42%, the worst in the nation.
Some epidemiologists and public health offices say that hospitalizations are the most critical measure of the spread and threat of COVID-19. According to a research paper published by the National Institutes of Health titled “Measure what matters: Counts of hospitalized patients are a better metric for health system capacity planning for a reopening” the analysts write:
Without using local hospitalization rates and the age distribution of positive patients, current models are likely to overestimate the resource burden of COVID-19. It is imperative that health systems start using these data to quantify effects of SIP (shelter-in-place) and aid reopening planning.
One way that experts measure COVID-19 data from state to state and county to county is per 100,000 people. It is the only way to compared locations with different population sizes. Based on this, the county with the highest number of hospitalizations over the past seven days is Hopkins County, Kentucky. As of July 8, its figure is 432.38 per 100,000.
Hopkins County has a population of 44,686. Of these, nearly 90% are white. The median household income is $47,170, about $20,000 below the national figure. The 18.1% poverty rate is sharply above the national figure.
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