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Coronavirus update: U.S. cases jump this week, why some vaccinated people die from the virus

Officials say vaccinated consumers are safe to celebrate the Fourth of July

Photo (c) Paul Biris - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌ 

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 33,681,328 (33,666,914)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 605,062 (604,738)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌  182,763,721 (182,330,997)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 3,957,898 (3,949,408)‌

U.S. COVID-19 cases rise 10% in a week

The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus this week jumped by 10%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said many of the new cases involve the Delta variant.

At a White House briefing, Walensky said the combination of the “hypertransmissible” variant and many Americans’ refusal to be vaccinated is causing the increase. Cases are rising the fastest in states with the fewest vaccinations.

The Delta variant is now responsible for a quarter of all new cases and has been detected in all 50 states. Walensky said it’s likely to become the dominant U.S. strain within the coming weeks.

Why some vaccinated people still die from COVID-19

A British study of COVID-19 deaths found that nearly half of the fatalities had been fully vaccinated. But a closer look at the data provides some reassurances about the effectiveness of the vaccines currently in use.

For starters, the vaccines are not 100% effective. They’re about 95% effective against the original COVID-19 strain and around 70% effective against the variants. 

Scientists say deaths are generally occurring among the most vulnerable population. They say patients who are elderly or have compromised immune systems are more likely to die from a COVID-19 infection than someone who is younger and healthier.

Officials give the OK to celebrate the 4th

Last Independence Day, a COVID-19 vaccine seemed like a pipe dream, and celebrations were subdued if they existed at all. So what about this year? White House and government health officials say with nearly half the country vaccinated, most gatherings should be fine as long as people use common sense.

"It's an appropriate time to step back and celebrate the progress we've made," White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said at a White House briefing. Dr. Antony Fauci, President Biden’s chief health adviser, agreed but said some people can safely celebrate more than others.

“If you were vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection,” Fauci said. “If you are not, you should wear a mask, and you should think very seriously about getting vaccinated." 

Around the nation

  • Arkansas: Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. It is also seeing a surge in new cases of the virus. “We are now going in the wrong direction yet again with COVID-19 infections here in the state of Arkansas," said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. 

  • Illinois: After lifting most COVID-19 restrictions three weeks ago, the state is seeing a sharp rise in new cases. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that daily COVID-19 infections reached 457 Thursday, the most in nearly a month.

  • Colorado: Public school children will not be required to wear masks when they return to the classroom in the fall. Education officials have released a new public health order removing the requirement that schools enforce masking.

  • Maine: The State of Civil Emergency declared 15 months ago ended this week. "The fully vaccinated can now regard COVID 19 as they would other respiratory viruses: something to be aware of but not something to be afraid of," said Maine’s top health official Dr. Nirav Shah.

  • Alabama: State health officials are reporting that a majority of counties in North Alabama have been declared “high risk” or “very high risk” for the spread of COVID-19. “Getting vaccinated is the single most effective way to help end the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is disappointing that Alabama ranks near the bottom of the states in vaccine uptake,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

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