US surpasses 40 million recorded COVID-19 cases
FORT MYERS, Fla. / CNN — The United States has recorded more than 40 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 4 million of them reported in the last month, data from Johns Hopkins University show.
It’s worth noting that the count comes with a caveat: Many experts believe the actual number of infections is much higher.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 infections have been on the rise in much of the US since early Summer. The country’s seven-day average of new cases Monday (137,270 daily) was more than four times higher than Labor Day of last year (39,355 daily), according to Johns Hopkins data.
The latest spike has caused overcrowding at hospitals and a rise in infections among kids as many return to their classrooms. Experts are worried that the holiday weekend may have made matters worse.
Unvaccinated Americans were urged not to travel for Labor Day, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
Vaccinated Americans were reminded that the high rate of COVID-19 transmission meant that it would be risky for them to travel as well, Dr. Walensky added.
The risk played out last year when cases surged in 31 states and the positivity rate went up in 25 of them only two weeks after the Labor Day holiday.
The big difference between this year and last is the more transmissible Delta variant. Another is that Americans over 12 years old can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Only 53% of the total US population is fully vaccinated, and just 62% of eligible Americans are, leaving tens of millions very vulnerable.
“Here’s the important thing: Everyone that I’m hospitalizing is not vaccinated. We are, by and large across the country, not needing to hospitalize people that have gotten both doses of the vaccine,” Dr. Megan Ranney, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean at Brown University’s school of public health, said. “This is a disease of the unvaccinated right now.”
Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and Florida all have less than 10% capacity in their intensive care units, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“The takeaway for everyone is get your shots and certainly wear a mask for that added layer of protection if you’re in public indoor spaces right now,” Ranney said.