Dr. Sunil Kumar gets a COVID-19 vaccination from Kristina Castro of Broward Health Medical in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 17, 2020. File photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 2 (UPI) -- The United States surpassed 35 million COVID-19 cases Thursday amid surges in multiple southern states, while 70% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose.
Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has reported 35,101,600 infections and 613,603 deaths related to COVID-19, leading the world in both totals, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.
Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida are seeing soaring rates of COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations driven mainly by the highly contagious Delta variant, updated figures showed Monday.
During the past seven days, Louisiana has recorded 511 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, by far the highest total of any state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 24,000 new cases have been recorded during that span.
In Arkansas, 433 new cases per 100,000 residents were recorded during the past week -- a rise of 13,000 cases -- while in Florida the figure stood at 397 per 100,000 after the state added more than 85,000 new cases.
Missouri is next at 301 new cases per 100,000 residents, followed by Alabama (265 per 100,000) and Mississippi (225).
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi has jumped by 276% during the last two weeks, while Louisiana's caseload has spiked by 244% during that period, The New York Times reported.
In Louisiana, healthcare providers faced a crisis on Monday as hospitalizations approached record levels and Gov. John Bel Edwards reinstated a statewide mask mandate for indoor spaces.
Edwards said he instituted the new rules for all people ages 5 & up "as COVID-19 cases & hospitalizations continue to rise across Louisiana, threatening the ability of hospitals to deliver care."
"Looking ahead to tomorrow, we've reported more hospitalizations than at any other point in the pandemic," told reporters. "We're the worst in the country in terms of this COVID surge, and that is because of the Delta variant, which is a game changer."
The former record in Louisiana was set on Jan. 7 when there were 2,069 people hospitalized statewide, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Only 36.8% of the state's population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
In Arkansas, health officials reported the state's COVID-19 caseload jumped by nearly 2,000 on Sunday, representing the biggest one-day increase since early January.
More than 1,100 more COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals, an increase of 34 people from the previous day.
"The patients we are seeing with the Delta variant are much sicker than the patients we saw months ago," University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences spokeswoman Leslie Taylor told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
"More are on ventilators than we had during the first two surges of COVID-19. Our ICU is full and our hospital is full and we are staffing patients in other areas of the hospital like the emergency department as they are waiting for beds."
In Florida, which leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations for COVID-19 at 44 per 100,000 residents, a top local official in Broward County voiced worries that the state's lagging vaccination rate will result in health care resources becoming overwhelmed.
Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said during a Monday news conference that COVID-19 transmission numbers are "doubling every 10 or 11 days," adding, "This is horrifying."
Intensive care units are Memorial Healthcare System in Broward, Fla., "are well over-capacity," he said.
"This does not mean that they are not taking in new emergency patients -- what it does mean is they've had to convert a lot of facilities that are not designed as ICUs. They're making their classrooms, they're making their meeting spaces, into additional ICUs."
Only 51.7% of the total population of Broward County, which includes the city of Fort Lauderdale, are fully vaccinated while new hospitalizations have soared 35% in the past week, the Miami Herald reported.
President Joe Biden in May set goals for 70% of Americans to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and for 160 million people to be fully vaccinated by July 4. The CDC reported Monday that the nation had finally reached the 70% goal, while a total of 164,919,666 people have been fully vaccinated.
In Washington, D.C., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Monday revealed he has tested positive for COVID-19 even after being vaccinated.
Graham said in a tweet he is experiencing mild symptoms and will be quarantining for 10 days due to the "breakthrough" infection.
"I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now," Graham wrote. "My symptoms would be far worse."
Graham and a group of other senators had gathered on a houseboat owned by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., over the weekend, The Hill reported.
National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo