WASHINGTON – New Covid-19 cases in the US have rebounded to more than 100,000 a day on average, returning to the levels of the winter surge six months ago.
Weekly cases on Friday (Aug 6) passed 750,000, the most since early February, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
Almost 135,000 weekly cases were reported in Florida on Friday, a record for a state that makes up about one in five US cases. Louisiana said 1 per cent of its entire population had been infected in the last two weeks as the delta variant spreads, particularly among the unvaccinated.
Cases are rising even as the US’ pace of vaccination has begun to tick up after months of decline, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, especially in hard-hit states like Louisiana and Arkansas.
Daily average deaths more than doubled in the past month, even while remaining far below the levels of last winter, with health-care experts warning that the pace of new infections could trigger deadlier mutations.
“It clearly has taken a very bad turn,” Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden, said in an interview earlier this week.
“As long as you have virus freely circulating in society the way it’s doing now with 100,000 cases a day, you give ample opportunity for the virus to mutate.”
The highly contagious delta variant, which makes up the bulk of new cases in the US, is also worsening, and complicating, the outbreak around the world.
The UK reported on Friday that hospitalisations of fully-vaccinated patients with the strain is rising, prompting warnings from officials that the shots can’t stop some people from getting seriously ill.
In the last two weeks, almost 35 per cent of those hospitalised were fully vaccinated, compared with 55 per cent who were unvaccinated, according to a statement from Public Health England on Friday. The Delta variant accounts for 99 per cent of cases in the UK.
Meanwhile, the outbreak continues its wider spread around the Asia-Pacific region. Cases in Sydney and Melbourne hit new highs for the current outbreak, infections and deaths in Thailand reached record levels, while Philippines officials warned of surging infections.
In the US, businesses and colleges should consider requiring people to get vaccinated against the virus in light of the jump in cases, Dr Fauci said. He said he opposed a federal vaccine mandate but that the velocity of Covid-19’s spread should spur private organisations to think about requiring shots.
“I’m concerned on what’s going on now and what could conceivably happen if we don’t get control of this virus,” he added.