With the Delta variant driving a surge in COVID-19 infections, accounting for more than 90% of new cases across the U.S., health officials warn the threat of the contagious variant is "serious" as infected patients crowd hospital beds in hard-hit regions.
“I cannot emphasize enough how serious this situation is,” Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, emergency physician at UM Capital Region Medical Center, told Yahoo Finance Live, referring to the Delta variant. “This is a wake-up call for everyone in the country regardless of where they live.”
The daily average case count rose above 96,000 on Wednesday, about a 130% jump over the past two weeks, according to data compiled by the New York Times. And the daily average number of deaths are on the rise as well, climbing 65% in the past 14 days to 410, but still only a fraction of the total reported during the winter peak.
As it stands now, Florida and Texas account for about a third of new cases across the country. Texas recorded more than 15,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, its highest one-day total in six months, according to state data. Meanwhile, the Florida Hospital Association reported more than 17,000 new COVID-19 cases in the state and 11,515 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, with 86% of inpatient ICU beds in use.
But it’s not just Florida and Texas that are seeing a rapid rise in cases fueled by the Delta Variant. States including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma and South Carolina have seen confirmed COVID-19 cases jump more than 100% in the past two weeks.
The Delta variant, which is driving the recent surge in cases, was first detected in India. The variant has now been identified in more than 130 countries and a recent internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) document warned it’s likely to cause more severe illness and is as contagious as chickenpox.
In prepared remarks on Tuesday, President Biden described the Delta variant as a “largely preventable tragedy that will get worse before it gets better” as he laid out plans to get more Americans vaccinated and stop the spread of COVID.
Though vaccination numbers in the country are improving, only 49% of the population 12 years and older is fully vaccinated, and 58% have received one shot.
“As an emergency room physician who continues to take care of patients on a daily basis who are testing positive for COVID… this is a real threat,” Clayborne added. “Reach out to those members of your family or their friend circles who have not been vaccinated and encourage them to rethink that because it is very risky.”
Seana Smith anchors Yahoo Finance Live’s 3-5 p.m. ET program. Follow her on Twitter @SeanaNSmith
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