Covid-19 vaccines are readily available and restrictions have been lifted across the country, but the pandemic is far from over. In fact, it’s starting to get worse.
According to The New York Times, the daily average case rate has increased in 46 of 50 states over the past two weeks. In 16 of those states, it has increased by at least 100 percent. The uptick is largely due to new, more-transmissible variants spreading through states where restrictions have been loosened if not lifted entirely, and where large communities remain unvaccinated. Across the entire United States, the average daily case rate has risen 94 percent over the past two weeks.
“The Delta variant is ripping around the world at a scorching pace, driving a new spike in cases and death,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference on Monday. “Delta is now in more than 104 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide. The world is watching in realtime as the Covid-19 virus continues to change and become more transmissible.”
The Delta variant became the dominant strain in the U.S. last week, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. Research indicates that the variant is 225 percent more transmissible than the original Covid-19 strain.
This shouldn’t be shocking, but the largest spikes are happening in states with lowest vaccination rates. According to a CNN analysis released Monday, the average daily case rate over the past week in states that have vaccinated less than half of their residents is three times as high as it is in states that have vaccinated over half of their residents. As CNN notes, the case rates in Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas — the only three states to have vaccinated less than 35 percent of their population — are among the 10 highest in the nation over the past week.
Tennessee, which has vaccinated only 38 percent of its population, has also been hit hard. According to the Times, the average daily case rate has increased by a whopping 404 percent over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, The Tennessean reported last week that the state’s Republican lawmakers successfully pressured the state’s health department into scaling back its campaign to raise awareness of the vaccine. On Monday, the state fired its top vaccination official. “It was my job to provide evidence-based education and vaccine access so that Tennesseans could protect themselves against COVID-19,” Dr. Michelle Fiscus wrote in a statement. “I have now been terminated for doing exactly that.”
The pushback against the vaccine isn’t limited to Tennessee, of course. Right-wing media and many prominent figures within the Republican Party are now actively advocating against receiving the vaccine. The propaganda push intensified last week after President Biden called for a “community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and oft times door-to-door, literally knocking on doors” campaign to get people vaccinated. Fox News responded to the whiff of government overreach with near-wall-to-wall anti-vaccination programming. A chyron on Laura Ingraham’s primetime show described “THE LEFT’S CONSTANT COVID POWER GRAB” as a guest argued that no one under 30 should be vaccinated.
Newsmax took the baton on Monday, with one host, Rob Schmitt, positing that vaccines are “going against nature” and that they “stand in the way” of evolution. “Obviously, I’m not a doctor,” Schmitt said before his making his argument.
Thank you, Rob.
Despite what you may hear from conservative media, there’s little doubt that the vaccine is working. A recent Associated Press analysis of government data found that 98.9 percent of Covid-related hospitalizations and 99.2 percent of Covid-related deaths are among the unvaccinated. It’s common sense that more vaccinations means fewer cases and fewer deaths. “We really need to get more people vaccinated, because that’s the solution,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS This Morning on Monday. “This virus will, in fact, be protected against by the vaccine.”