The resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the US has become quite worrisome over the last few weeks. The new Delta variant, which is said to be more infections and potent than the previous one, is threatening the recovery from the pandemic that the US had worked so hard to achieve. Nonetheless, it seems that the risk associated with Delta is varying a lot from state to state.
While many public health experts agree that all states are now at a “high risk" of seeing an explosion in cases, some are far more riskier than others. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida have been labeled as “severe” with cases in those 4 states surging.
It is also emerging that hospitalizations in the 4 states are hitting high levels with hospitals now running the risk of getting completely overwhelmed. Texas, California, and Nevada are also among the 23 states that have been deemed “very high risk” by the Centre for Disease Control. Interestingly enough, in states that have been ranked as “severe”, the level of vaccine hesitancy remains high.
For example, in the state of Arkansas, only 38% of the eligible population has been vaccinated against COVID-19. This lags way behind the national average which is at 51%. Besides, we have only started to see vaccine drives in recent days after hospitalizations and cases of new COVID infections were reported.
Before this recent surge in the Delta variant, vaccination rates in Arkansas, and most of the southern states like Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi, were very low. The Biden administration had begun a massive vaccination campaign that would have helped put the COVID 19 pandemic behind.
However, the new administration has been met with huge levels of vaccine hesitancy. Much of this hesitance has been fueled by misinformation on social media but some analysts believe that the political rhetoric taken by GOP leaders has played a key role.
The states that have lagged behind the US vaccination rates are all considered “red” states with republican governors in place. And it's not just the vaccines that are fueling the recent surge in cases.
In Florida, for example, GOP Governor Ron DeSantis has signed laws preventing mask mandates in schools and other public spaces, a move that has put him in direct conflict with the White House. The severity of their recent surge is still not clear but as hospitalizations rise, many worry that maybe the nightmare of COVID-19 is far from over.
According to CDC data, in a state like Arkansas, 79% of its entire ICU capacity has already been used. With infections now surging to new heights, the state will likely be completely overwhelmed over the coming weeks.
It’s the same story for Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida which have already hit over 80% in ICU capacity. Florida in particular is at 90% and the state is staring at a full-blown crisis in the coming days.