The Delta variant is spreading rapidly across the country, leading to a drastic rise in Covid-19 cases in the US. As cases rise and hospitals overflow in areas with low vaccination rates, experts continue to urge citizens to get vaccinated.
Here's what you need to know about Covid-19 in the US today:
Covid cases: The seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up by more than 40% over the previous week, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. Furthermore, according to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients, one-third of all US Covid cases reported in the last week were from two states: Florida and Texas. Cases are surging in areas of the two states with low vaccination rates, Zients added.
Hospitalizations: Covid-19 hospitalizations are now reaching wintertime levels. According to new data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized on Monday, a number that hasn't been reached since Feb. 27. The 50,625 hospitalizations are more than triple the amount of people hospitalized one month ago for Covid. Moreover, the ICU of Louisiana’s largest hospital is stretched to its limit with 23 people waiting for a bed as of Monday.
However, US vaccination rates are on the rise, according to the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.
Vaccinations: As the state battles a rapid increase in Covid cases, Louisiana's vaccination rate is increasing quickly, with a 302% increase in the average number of newly vaccinated people per day. Zients said vaccination rates have more than doubled in the states with the highest case rates. For example, Mississippi has increased vaccinations by 250%, Alabama by 215% and Arkansas by 206%. According to Dr. Francis Collins, "People are waking up to" the dangers of the Delta variant and getting vaccinated. In addition, it had been President Biden's plan to vaccinate 70% of Americans with at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by July 4. On Monday, nearly a month later than anticipated, the Biden administration reached its goal.
Schools: Some students are heading back to school this week, leaving many school districts wondering how best to protect their students. For example, South Florida's Broward County Public Schools announced last week that the district would require everyone in their buildings to wear masks. The decision came after the CDC issued new guidance recommending everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order preventing mask mandates in schools on Friday. The school district must now will withdraw its mask mandate after the governor threatened to withhold funding from districts that require face coverings. Other school districts are struggling with the same issue, such as those in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in schools, and some Texas teachers are calling for the governor to reverse his decision.
Travel: The CDC has added 16 destinations to its "very high" Covid-19 risk level. A risk designation of "Level 4: Covid-19 Very High" means people should avoid travel to these locations. This category also means the destinations have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC parameters. The following 16 locations have been added to the "Level 4" category: Andorra, Curaçao, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Iran, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Libya, Malta, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin and US Virgin Islands.
CNN's Alyssa Kraus, Madeline Holcombe, Ralph Ellis, Theresa Waldrop, Holly Yan, Joe Sutton, Jason Hanna, Jacqueline Howard, Christina Maxouris and Elizabeth Stuart contributed to this post.