More than half of Californians are being urged to wear masks indoors – regardless of vaccination status – as the Indian ‘Delta’ Covid variant continues to wreak havoc across the U.S.
At least 17 counties in the Golden State – home to 56 percent of residents – are asking people to wear face coverings in places such as grocery stores and movie theaters, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Just one of those counties, Los Angeles County, is requiring masks to be worn in these public settings.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned on Tuesday that she might do the same as infections continue to rise in the city.
It comes as the U.S. recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244 percent increase from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago.
Every state aside from Iowa has seen infections rise or hold steady in the last week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Additionally, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 274.
Fatalities, which are a lagging indicator, have not dramatically risen but instead have slightly increased by 6.6 percent from the average of 257 recorded three weeks prior.
Health officials say this is because people now are protected by vaccines, though in states that have less vaccine uptake – such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee – hospitals are starting to fill up.
The surge has been blamed on the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, which now makes up 83.2 percent of all new infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Health officials say nearly all new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals.
‘Don’t be deceived that: “I got this far and I am okay,”‘ Dr Gregory Poland, an internist and head of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, told CBS Minnesota.
‘This is a very different variant. It will find you. This virus will find everybody who is not immune.’
In light of the rising cases, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least August 21.
At least 17 counties in California – making up more than half of the state’s residents – are urging residents to wear masks indoors amid the spread of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant. Pictured: People wear face coverings as they pass through Union Station in Los Angeles, California, July 2021
The U.S. recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244% from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago
Deaths have continued to remain relatively flat with 29 recorded on Tuesday and a seven-day rolling average of 274, 6.6% from the average of 257 recorded three weeks prior
Every single state – aside from Iowa – and the District of Coluimbia are reporting increases of COVID-19 cases this week
Last week, Los Angeles County became the first in the country to require all residents to wear mask regardless of whether or not they’d been fully immunized.
The county is reporting about 13.5 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate has risen from 0.4 percent on June 15, when the state reopened, to 4.8 percent as of Tuesday
But at least 17 counties are similarly asking residents to mask up following their own increases.
For example, Santa Barbara County is reporting an average of 32 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to health department data.
While this is a low number on its own, it is four times higher than the average of eight cases per day that were being recorded in late June.
Meanwhile, Napa Valley County is recording about 12 cases per day compared to late June when just five cases per day were being recorded, according to local health officials.
‘All community members should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,’ said Ventura County Health Officer Dr Robert Levin in a statement on Monday.
‘While vaccines remain our best tool against COVID-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection.’
California overall has seen cases rise to an average of 5,063 per day, a 160 percent increase from 1,946 just two weeks ago, a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data found.
Over the the same time period, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 1,506 to 2,447, a 62 percent jump, according to state data.
Since the Delta variant was first discovered in April, it has become the dominant strain, accounting for 56.8 percent of all cases, according to the CDC.
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would implement a similar order to Los Angeles County if the city doesn’t get the virus under control.
California has seen cases rise to an average of 5,063 per day, a 160% increase from 1,946 just two weeks ago, leading many counties to ask that masks be required
On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot suggested she may masks mandatory like Los Angeles County as cases increase 164% in a month from 34 per day to 90 per day and increase in in Illinois to 890 per day compared to 222 per day in June
Currently, Chicago is recording a seven-day average of 90 cases per day, an 164 percent increase from 34 cases reported last month.
In Illinois, cases are up to an average of 890 per day compared to 222 per day at this time last month, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
CDC data show the Delta variant makes up 43.1 percent of all new infections in Illinois.
‘If we allow the virus to linger here in Chicago, we will likely see further mutations, some of which our current vaccines may not be able to protect against, and have to reinforce some of the restrictions that infamously defined 2020 and part of 2021,’ Lightfoot said at a press conference on Tuesday.
She also noted that 90 percent of people hospitalized in Chicago are unvaccinated.
‘This is a reality we can avoid, and it’s preventable,’ Lightfoot said and urged residents to get their shots.
Missouri continues to be one of the nation’s COVID-19 epicenters with average cases rising by 38 percent from 1,245 per day to 1,728 per day in the last two weeks, according to DailyMail.com’s analysis.
The state’s vaccination rate is behind the national average with about 46 percent of residents having received at least one dose and 40 percent fully vaccinated.
Comparatively, 56.1 percent of the U.S. has received at least one dose and 48.6 percent are fully vaccinated.
The surge is due to the Delta variant, which has taken hold in the southwestern part of the state, where rates of at least one vaccine dose in some counties are as low as 15 percent.
In Greene County, where Springfield is located, the health department reported 251 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals on Monday, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.
Average COVID-19 cases in Missouri have risen by 38% from 1,245 per day to 1,728 per day in the last two weeks
In Arkansas, COVID-19 cases have jumped from an average of 697 per day two weeks ago to 1,107 per day on Tuesday, an increase of 58%
Louisiana has seen average coronavirus cases soar 94% from 714 per to 1,387 per day over the last 14 days
This marks the first time that the figure has surpassed the record set last winter of 237 patients, which was reported on December 1.
Doctors say many of their patients are in their 20s, 30s and 40s in comparison with previous surges and nearly all are unvaccinated.
‘There’s so many COVID patients. They’re on so many different units,’ Dr Rachel Keech, who was recently deployed to Mercy Hospital Springfield to help treat patients, told the Post-Dispatch. ‘They’re everywhere.’
In nearby Arkansas, cases have risen from an average of 697 per day two weeks ago to 1,106 per day on Tuesday, a 58 percent increase, the DailyMail.com analysis found.
Arkansas has one of the worst vaccination rates in the country with only 35.4 percent of residents fully vaccinated, CDC data show.
According to the state’s department of health, 766 residents are hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 85 from Friday, and 124 are on ventilators, an increase of five.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the largest hospital in the state, told CBS News that all 23 COVID-19 beds are full with 56 patients in total, some of whom have to be housed in other wings.
‘To put it into perspective, our team is in the fourth quarter right now, or maybe even double overtime,’ Dr Cam Patterson, chancellor of the medical center, told the network.
‘This is not the first quarter for this team. They’re tired. It’s tough.’
In nearby Louisiana, cases have risen by 94 percent from 714 per to 1,387 per day over the last 14 days.
Louisiana has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates of the country with about 36 percent fully vaccinated, CDC data show.
Hospitals across the state are seeing a surge of patients with 711 hospitalized with the virus as of Monday, according to the Department of Health, which is the highest number seen since mid-February.
Dr Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the state’s biggest hospital, told The Advocate that 30 new patients were admitted on Saturday night.
The hospital had to open an entirely new floor for COVID-19 patients, most of whom were under age 65 and not fully vaccinated.
‘I want to be clear after seeing what I’ve seen the past two weeks,’ O’Neal said at a news conference on Friday.
‘We only have two choices: we are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic. Or we are going to accept death. A lot of it, this surge, and another surge, and possibly another variant.’