The U.S. recorded more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day – about 42 fatalities per hour – for the first time since March, according to a Reuters tally.
The surge in deaths comes as the Delta variant continues to ravage parts of the country with low vaccination rates.
That point hammered home by the White House’s Covid Response team on Wednesday.
“This remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
The Reuters tally from state data on Tuesday showed 1,017 deaths. That takes death toll from the pandemic to just under 623,000 people, the highest number of deaths officially reported by any country in the world.
The United States has reported more than 100,000 new cases a day on average for the past twelve days, a six-month high. The hardest hit region is the South. Florida reported a record of nearly 26,000 new cases last week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lakeside Medical Center north of Miami said 90 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said the hospital is simply out of intensive care beds.
“They’ve got 5 patients in their ER who are in desperate urgent need of an ICU level of care. I want something. What I don’t want is a request for five caskets because I’ve had five people die while waiting for emergency health care.”
The surge in deaths and cases comes as school districts across the country welcome students back from summer vacation – many being met with a battle over whether to mandate masks. The Florida State Board of Education voted this week to sanction two local school boards who defied the Republican governor and required children wear face coverings.
On Wednesday CDC director Rachelle Walensky, making the case for additional booster shots, said new data confirms that vaccine protection against COVID-19 decreases over time and is less effective against the Delta variant.
U.S. officials have started to accelerate vaccinations in the face of the renewed threat, with the seven-day average of doses given increasing by 14% in the past two weeks, according to figures from Our World in Data.
While governments and businesses initially offered incentives such as cash and prizes for getting vaccinated, the surge in cases has caused some companies and states to mandate vaccines if workers want to keep their jobs and not face routine testing.
However, U.S. hospitals continue to flood with new patients as COVID-related hospitalizations have increased by about 70% in the past two weeks.
The United States has reported more than 100,000 new cases a day on average for the past twelve days, a six-month high, according to a Reuters tally.
The U.S. South remains the epicenter of the latest outbreak, with Florida reporting a record of nearly 26,000 new cases last week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the new cases was Texas Governor Greg Abbott, whose state is engulfed in a fourth COVID surge. Abbott tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday but so far has no symptoms of the illness, his office said.
The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 is rising across the country and were 1,834 as of Tuesday morning, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a trend health experts attribute to the Delta variant being more likely to infect children than the original Alpha strain.