Despite the widespread access of highly effective vaccines, COVID-19 is again on the rise.
Many of these cases are coming from a handful of states where vaccine rates are low. In the South, COVID-19 cases and related deaths are well above the national average. During the week of July 19, more than 40 percent of COVID-19 cases came from three states (Florida, Texas, and Missouri), according to public health officials. Most of those cases involve unvaccinated patients.
Here’s a closer look at the problem.
1. Cases are highest in the South and Great Plains
In the map below, you can see that states with the largest number of positive COVID-19 cases are in the South. In the last week, Arkansas and Louisiana have had more cases per 100,000 residents than other states, followed by Florida, Alabama, and Missouri. Many of these states also have exponentially increasing infection rates, a metric that measures how fast the virus spreads, according to Act Now Coalition’s Covid Act Now tracker.
2. Cases are rising where vaccinations are the lowest
Almost 60 percent of adults 18 and older in the country are vaccinated against COVID-19. Still, vaccination is low in many states, primarily in the South. Perhaps not coincidentally, many of these states also have the highest infection rates in the country.
3. Who plans on getting vaccinated?
One particular obstacle to vaccination is hesitancy. Surveys by the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control conducted in early July found that around 11 percent of Americans will “definitely not” or “probably not” get vaccinated. In states such as Alabama and Mississippi, the number is closer to 20 percent. In Wyoming, 25 percent of people fit into that category.
The survey found more than 50 percent of people are concerned about side effects and nearly 50 percent of people simply don’t trust the vaccines. In Wyoming, 45 percent of people “don’t’ believe they need it.”
Some demographics are more hesitant than others. For instance, a Kaiser Family Foundation study in June found that unvaccinated Americans who do not plan on getting a vaccine are more likely to be rural Republicans without a college degree.
4. Who is getting hospitalized?
Hospitalizations are also highest in Southern states. The national per capita rate of hospital beds currently in use is seven for every 100,000 residents. In Nevada, the number is 35. COVID-19 patients account for 11 percent of beds in Nevada, compared with the national average of 2 percent.
5. Who is dying?
The seven-day death rates for some states are higher than the national average. Unvaccinated people account for 98 percent to 99 percent of all COVID-19-related deaths. Meanwhile, the Delta variant is the most prevalent strain in the United States. Experts at the CDC said current vaccines are effective against it.