South Is Delta Epicenter
Florida has seen at least three days of record-breaking COVID-19 cases since the start of August. Overall, the number of new daily cases has continued to increase in Florida and the state has become the new epicenter for COVID. According to CDC data, the state's seven-day moving average number of cases has continued to increase since mid-July to numbers that the state had not seen throughout the pandemic. The situation is especially dire in Louisiana and Florida, which have the country’s worst hospitalization rates. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 500 students in Palm Beach were quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 just two days into the school year. On Friday, the Broward County Teachers Union announced that three unvaccinated teachers died of COVID-19 within 24 hours this week. Florida and Texas alone have accounted for nearly 40% of new hospitalizations across the country. Florida is 3rd in overall cases of Covid and 4th in overall deaths, Texas is 2nd in overall cases and 3rd in overall deaths from Covid so far. Simultaneously, the crush of new COVID-19 infections in Mississippi and Tennessee has become so dire that the state has turned to efforts reminiscent of the earliest days of the U.S. pandemic - the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) opening up a 20-bed field hospital in its parking garage on Friday morning. In Mississippi, where daily cases have doubled in the last two weeks, more than 4,400 students were quarantined from August 2 to 6, according to state data. Low vaccination rates and the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus have driven a surge of COVID-19 cases across the United States, overwhelming some state medical systems. Southern states, many with vaccination rates well below the national average, have seen explosive case growth. As of August 12th, although 83% of Texans are age 12 and older and eligible for a vaccine, only 44.8% are fully vaccinated. People between the ages of 20 and 59 now account for a higher proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations than in January.