Experts agree: The worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seems behind us. Nationwide, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has fallen from a high of over 259,000 on Jan. 8 to just over 14,000 on June 12. But there’s still some serious cause for concern: The Delta variant of the coronavirus (formerly known as the Indian variant) is up to 70 percent more contagious than the first versions of the virus. And although all of the two-dose COVID vaccines have been found to be effective against it, Delta reduces the protection after one dose by almost 20%. That means people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated are at increased risk of catching the variant—should it become as widespread in the U.S. as it is now in Europe—and potentially being hospitalized or dying from it.
Right now, the Delta variant accounts for about 6 percent of infections in the US and 91 percent in the UK. “We don’t want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the U.K., where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, late last week. “We have within our power to [prevent] that by getting people vaccinated.”
Unfortunately, in many states, that’s not happening. These are the five states with the fewest number of residents who are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data—they have not yet administered at least one shot to half of their population. Read on to find out more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Residents fully vaccinated: 28%
As news broke this week that Mississippi has the lowest full-vaccination rate in the nation, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said more encouragement was needed to get residents of the state vaccinated. He suggested employers provide time off or other incentives.”Consider celebrating and supporting your employees getting vaccinated,” he said. “Recognize what they’ve done not only to protect themselves and their families, but also your workplace.”
Residents fully vaccinated: 30%
Alabama has the second-lowest rate of vaccination in the U.S. “I am extremely concerned about the rate of vaccination in the state,” said Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey on Thursday, “and very disturbed that we are not getting more of our students vaccinated and more of our adults vaccinated.”
He warned: “If we don’t have children vaccinated, then we will have outbreaks this fall. And when we have outbreaks, we’re going to have large numbers of people quarantined. We’re going to have to cancel volleyball and football games again—the same kinds of things we had to do last year—unless we get more people vaccinated.”
Residents fully vaccinated: 32%
COVID cases hit a four-week high in Arkansas on Saturday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Gov. Asa Hutchinson thanked “everyone who continues to encourage vaccines” on Twitter. “Our vaccination numbers are up, but our active cases have increased,” he tweeted. “Let’s keep going in the right direction as we enter summer.”
Residents fully vaccinated: 32%
“This strain is more contagious, more deadly and it’s spreading among younger people at a faster rate,” warned Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge on Saturday. She encouraged residents of the state not to be “lulled into a sense of security” over statistics that showed a drop in virus cases last summer “because they will not mirror this year’s surge.”
“I don’t like to be low on the rankings, but what pains me more is it’s reflective of people who have not protected themselves and might get sick for what is now a vaccine-preventable illness,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer, told The Advocate.
Residents fully vaccinated: 33%
Last week, a bill that would prevent employers from requiring employees to show proof of vaccination received near-unanimous support in a state legislative committee. Meanwhile, Wyoming posted the fifth-lowest vaccination rate in the country for both adults and young people: Only 12% of Wyoming residents aged 12 to 17 have received at least one shot, and only 4% are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.
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