Nearly three-fourths of counties in the United States are reporting high community transmission of COVID-19 as the Delta variant spreads
Feels like Groundhog’s Day, doesn’t it? A year ago, American parents sent their kids back to school, either in person, virtual, or a hybrid of the two, with COVID-19 cases mounting along with plenty of fear and anxiety. Now, we’re about to start a new school year and what should’ve been a hopeful time with more and more people getting vaccinated has instead turned into COVID Nightmare 2.0 as the Delta variant rips through communities at a rate so high most of the country is now an area of high community transmission. Did I mention we’re about to send kids back to school? With several states banning mask mandates?
The most recent maps of the U.S. show a country that looks like it’s on fire. The latest available federal data paints a very bleak and very crimson picture of our nation as Delta spreads rapidly. Right now, 72.48 percent of U.S. counties are reporting high community transmission with 16.55 percent reporting substantial community transmission. That leaves less than 5 percent of counties reporting low transmission. And it’s important (and terrifying) to note that these numbers are before the vast majority of states have sent kids back to school.
In some states that are already reporting disturbing levels of COVID spread, politicians have made moves to ban mask mandates in schools, instead, leaving it up to parents whether their kids will wear them. Florida in particular is in the news lately for their high levels of hospitalization of both adults and children with Governor Ron DeSantis seemingly doing everything in his power to make the situation worse. I can’t imagine those numbers will improve once students return to the classroom with no mask mandate to protect them thanks to DeSantis.
The federal data points to a problem largely affecting the southern U.S. with Louisiana reporting the highest case rate, followed by Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee. In fact, a charter school in Atlanta already had to quarantine more than 100 students in the first week of classes.
As cases rise, so do hospitalizations. Mississippi is reporting a 375 percent increase in hospitalizations in the last month with a vaccinated population of just 35 percent. Admissions in Arkansas went up 158 percent in the same time period.
Basically, the pandemic that never really left is very much back and if we don’t take action, we might be looking at a school year even worst than the last.