Driven by the Delta variant, coronavirus caseloads in the US have hit a record high since last winter, wiping out months of progress and vaccination rates.
Concentrated mostly in the South due to less vaccine rates and eased mask guidelines, infection rates are soaring in Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee. Hospitals are once again failing to meet the rise in demand for beds with surgeries canceled in hospitals in Washington state and Utah, severe staff shortages in Kentucky and Alabama, a lack of beds in Tennessee, and intensive care units at or over capacity in Texas.
In Kentucky, 70% of the state’s hospitals — 66 of 96 — are reporting critical staff shortages, the highest level yet during the pandemic, the governor said. “Our hospitals are at the brink of collapse in many communities,” said Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner.
As it currently stands, the vast majority of the dead and the hospitalized have been unvaccinated, and a probable booster shot is most likely to be considered. The U.S. is averaging over 1,800 COVID-19 deaths and 170,000 new cases per day, the highest levels respectively since early March and late January.