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As Covid Cases Rise All Over U.S., Lower Vaccination Rates Point to Worse Outcomes

Many places in the US that are seeing more new #COVID19 cases than at any point in the outbreak also have some of the country's lowest vaccination rates.

The highly contagious #DeltaVariant of the #coronavirus is now responsible for almost all new Covid-19 cases in the United States, and cases are rising rapidly. For the first time since February, there were more than 100,000 confirmed cases on Tuesday, the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated people should resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces in communities where the virus is surging.

That updated guidance was based in part on a new internal report that cited evidence that vaccinated people experiencing breakthrough infections of the Delta variant, which remain infrequent, may be as capable of spreading the virus as infected unvaccinated people.

Several studies, including ones referenced in the C.D.C.’s presentation, have shown that vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant, particularly against hospitalization and death. That has held true in the real world: About 97 percent of those recently hospitalized by the virus were unvaccinated, the C.D.C. said. But in counties where vaccination rates are low, cases are rising fast, and deaths are also on the rise.

The latest increase in cases has set records in some parts of the United States. Many of the places seeing more new cases than at any other point during the pandemic also have some of the country’s lowest vaccination rates.

The Branson, Mo., and Harrison, Ark., areas have both set records this month. Less than 30 percent of all residents in either place are fully vaccinated.

Cases are beginning to level off or decrease after peaks in much of the Ozarks, which had seen one of the country’s worst recent outbreaks. Now Louisiana is experiencing a surge and is seeing more new cases than at any other point during the pandemic. Daily case rates there are more than 10 times higher than the average level in June.

As the United States continues to face a virus that is in its most contagious form yet, experts predict a divide will remain between vaccinated and unvaccinated communities. Hospitals in some parts of the country where vaccination rates are low are once again setting up overflow wards, while hospitals where vaccination rates are higher might see a smaller influx of patients.

In the United Kingdom, the Delta variant became the main form of the virus in May, when a large share of the population had already been vaccinated. Three months later, virus cases are on a downward trend after reaching a level almost as high as the country’s highest-ever peak in January. Deaths have not reached anywhere near previous peaks, a sign that the U.K. vaccine rollout, which prioritized residents by age, protected many of the country’s most vulnerable by the time the Delta variant fueled a surge.

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