JULY 19, 2021
As top health officials warn that COVID-19 has become a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” recent figures from states and cities throughout the United States reveal the extent to which the virus is impacting people who are not fully inoculated.
A stark case in point: During June, every person who died of COVID-19 in Maryland was unvaccinated, according to a spokesperson for the governor’s office. There were 130 people who died of COVID-19 in Maryland in June, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were also predominantly among unvaccinated people, the state said, at 95% and 93% respectively.
Other states have reported similar findings while urging people to get vaccinated as the more transmissible delta variant is driving up COVID-19 cases.
In Louisiana, 97% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and deaths since February have been in unvaccinated people, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday. Between February and July, unvaccinated people in Louisiana were 20 times more likely to become infected with COVID-19, according to the state health department.
Those figures were reported as state health officials warned Louisiana is now in a “fourth surge” of the virus; as of Friday, the statewide average daily number of cases per 100,000 residents were up 177% over the past 14 days. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations also doubled during that time, health officials said.
With the delta variant now the most dominant strain in Louisiana, about 46% of adults in the state are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
“We only have two choices, we are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic or we are going to accept death, a lot of it, this surge and another surge and possibly another variant,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Catherine O’Neal said during a state COVID-19 press briefing Friday.
In Alabama, over 96% of COVID-19 deaths since April 1 were in unvaccinated people, the state health department said on July 13, for 509 deaths out of 529 total. Over 42% of adults in the state are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
In Los Angeles County, nearly every COVID-19 case, hospitalization and death is in unvaccinated people, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported on July 12. Of the 1,059 new cases reported that day, nearly 87% were in people under the age of 50.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective and important tool to reduce COVID-19 transmission and the spread of variants like the highly transmissible delta variant,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
Due to a “rapid rise” in COVID-19 cases in the county, from 210 reported on June 15 to 1,537 two months later — local officials reinstated a mandatory indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, over the weekend. Over 60% of county residents ages 16 and up are fully vaccinated.
New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said the vaccines are “astonishingly effective” while sharing that over 98% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the city between Jan. 1 and June 15 were in people who were not fully vaccinated. That included 8,069 deaths in people who were not fully vaccinated. Over 64% of NYC adults are fully vaccinated.
The national picture is unclear, through in mid-June, former White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said in an interview with The Washington Post that “98, 99-plus percent of people that are being hospitalized and dying with COVID have not been vaccinated.”
As parts of the country with low vaccination rates are seeing outbreaks of COVID-19, “there is a clear message that is coming through,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a press briefing Friday. “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
“Communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” she added.
Over 56% of those ages 12 and up in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Clinical trials showed that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious disease and death. Breakthrough cases — when a fully vaccinated person becomes infected with COVID-19 — are rare after full vaccination; a recent CDC report found that they may occur in just 0.01% of all fully vaccinated people.
“The message, loud and clear, that we need to reiterate is that these vaccines continue to [provide] strong protection against SARS-CoV-2, including the delta variant,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said during Friday’s White House briefing, calling the delta variant “formidable.” “It’s so important for yourself, your family and your community to get vaccinated.”
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