The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the more transmissible delta variant, or B.1.617.2, is now estimated to be the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S. The rapid growth worries public health experts.
Delta Is Now The Dominant Coronavirus Variant In The U.S.
The highly contagious delta variant now accounts for more than 51% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to new estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India and is spreading quickly across the globe. And in parts of the U.S., the delta strain accounts for more than 80% of new infections, including some Midwestern states like Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. The delta variant is already causing 74.3% of infections in Western states, including Utah and Colorado, and 58.8% of infections in Southern states like Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, according to CDC estimates. (Greenhalgh and Stein, 7/6)
Delta Variant Now Makes Up More Than Half Of Coronavirus Cases In US, CDC Says
The Delta variant, a more transmissible and possibly more dangerous strain of coronavirus, now makes up more than half of all new Covid-19 infections in the US, according to estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Delta accounts for 51.7% of new infections in the US, according to the CDC. The B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant, which has dominated for months, now accounts for 28.7% of cases, the CDC said. (Holcombe, Yan and Waldrop, 7/7)
In other news about the delta variant —
Louisville Courier Journal:
Louisville Confirms 5 Cases Of COVID-19 Delta Variant, But Likely Has Many More
Louisville has confirmed five cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, which is more contagious than other strains, local health leaders announced Tuesday. The actual number of Delta cases in the city is “likely much larger,” though, since not all test samples are checked for the variant and because confirming results can take several weeks, according to Connie Mendel, the assistant director at the Louisville health department. “We do know that the variant spreads quickly and exponentially among people who are unvaccinated,” she said. “So, if you’re unvaccinated, you’re at an increased risk of becoming severely ill, hospitalized and dying from this variant.” (Ladd, 7/6)
Fully Vaccinated Veteran Hospitalized After Being Diagnosed With Delta Variant
A 73-year-old veteran in Pennsylvania, who is fully vaccinated, is currently hospitalized after being diagnosed with the COVID-19 Delta variant, a report said. Joe Pucci started to exhibit symptoms last month and, as his condition worsened, visited the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center, according to WPXI. He told the station that he did not believe he would survive. His family said that he has some underlying health issues, like diabetes. His daughter said doctors indicated that Pucci would not be alive if not for early treatment. Pucci also credits being vaccinated. (DeMarche, 7/7)
Los Angeles Times:
California Spread Of Coronavirus’ Delta Variant Alarms Officials
The rise of the highly contagious Delta variant is causing increases in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in California and prompting concern about new spread of the illness in unvaccinated communities. While those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are believed to have high levels of protection against the variant, more people who have not been vaccinated are getting sick, data show. (Lin II and Money, 7/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
Delta Covid-19 Variant Gains Ground Among The Unvaccinated
At Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Wyoming, health workers didn’t need genomic sequencing to tell them the highly contagious Delta variant had arrived. Younger patients started coming in about two months ago with symptoms of Covid-19. Many progressed from mild illness to respiratory distress more quickly than patients treated earlier in the pandemic, said Sodienye Tetenta, a critical-care physician at the hospital. Nearly all were unvaccinated. “We could see that this was not the Covid of last year,” Dr. Tetenta said. (Wernau, 7/6)
Covid’s Delta Variant Is Highly Contagious. Will Vaccines Work Against It?
The delta variant now accounts for half of the Covid-19 cases in many areas of the U.S., President Joe Biden said Tuesday, urging unvaccinated Americans to get the Covid-19 shots as the U.S. faces a dramatic rise in the “hypertransmissible” variant of the coronavirus. His plea included reassurances about the strength of the Covid-19 vaccines available in the U.S. (Edwards, 7/6)
The Wall Street Journal:
What Parents With Unvaccinated Kids Need To Know About The Delta Variant This Summer
Gloria Kennett is eager to take a long-awaited beach vacation, but she is keeping a watchful eye on new cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant. Ms. Kennett, a hotel executive in Chicago, is vaccinated, but her 9-month-old daughter isn’t yet eligible. For now they’re planning to go. But if they see a big surge in cases, they’ll hold off. They’re reassured that they can get a refund if they cancel. (Dizik, 7/5)
From Nevada to Oklahoma, reports note that covid cases across the U.S. are rising thanks to the combination of the highly transmissible delta variant, low vaccination rates in some places, and what people were up to over the long July 4th weekend.
States Report Increase In COVID-19 Cases Over Holiday
Half of all US states reported significant increases in COVID-19 cases over the long Fourth of July weekend in a surge of virus activity caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant. The rise in cases comes as the country narrowly missed the mark of vaccinating 70% of residents ages 18 and up with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, 67.1% of American adults have had at least one dose of vaccine, and 47.4% are fully vaccinated. (Soucheray, 7/6)
State’s Covid-19 Hospitalizations Soar
The number of patients hospitalized with covid-19 in Arkansas jumped Tuesday by 55, to 416, the largest one-day increase since January. Gov. Asa Hutchinson attributed the uptick to the state’s low vaccination rates.
Fifteen more covid-19 patients were admitted into intensive care units, raising the total to 176, a week-to-week increase of 34 from the 142 reported the previous Tuesday. Those patients requiring ventilators to breathe increased by 10, to 76 — up seven from 69 a week ago.
The increases came the same day Hutchinson announced a statewide tour to talk directly with residents and address vaccine hesitancy. (Roberts, 7/7)
Oklahoma Sees High Hospital Admission Rate For COVID-19 Patients
Oklahoma is seeing a high rate of hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients amid rising case numbers in the state, according to an expert. Across the state, nearly 28% of people who have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last two weeks were admitted to hospitals, said Dr. David Kendrick, founder and CEO of MyHealth Access Network, a statewide health information exchange. “That’s a really high admission rate,” Kendrick said Tuesday at a Healthier Oklahoma Coalition news conference, adding that the number of hospital admissions statewide is still low despite the high rate. (Branham, 7/7)
Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Nevada Adds 1,346 New COVID Cases, Sees Sharp Jump In Positivity Rate
Nevada on Tuesday reported 1,346 new coronavirus cases and five deaths over the preceding four days as well as a sharp increase in the state’s test positivity rate. Updated data covering Friday through Monday posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services on its coronavirus website showed the two-week moving average of new COVID-19 cases increasing to 352 per day and pushed the state’s case total to 336,109. The state’s death total increased to 5,702. The five deaths reported were below the two-week moving average of two per day, when spread over four days. (Dylan, 7/6)
US Coronavirus: US Sends Surge Team To Southwest Missouri After Delta Variant Fuels Rise In Cases And Hospitalizations
The US government is deploying a Covid-19 surge team to provide public health support in southwest Missouri, where the spread of the virus is filling up hospital beds once again. The surge of Covid-19 cases is so high in the city of Springfield, Missouri, that the CoxHealth hospital system began transferring patients infected with the virus to other facilities to provide better staffing. At Cox South, a Springfield hospital, 12 Covid-19 patients were transferred to other facilities in the region between Friday and Monday morning. (Elamroussi, 7/7)
The Washington Post:
All Marylanders Who Died Of Covid In June Were Unvaccinated, Data Show
Unvaccinated people made up all of Maryland’s reported coronavirus deaths last month, as well as the vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations, the state reported Tuesday — data that public health officials say demonstrates the effectiveness of vaccines. The numbers come as experts try to persuade the vaccine-hesitant to get shots and protect themselves against a virus that has killed more than 22,000 people in the region and nearly 4 million worldwide. (Portnoy and Wiggins, 7/6)
California’s Highest Covid Infection Rates Shift To Rural Counties
Most of us are familiar with the good news: In recent weeks, rates of covid-19 infection and death have plummeted in California, falling to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic. The average number of new covid infections reported each day dropped by an astounding 98% from December to June, according to figures from the California Department of Public Health. And bolstering that trend, nearly 70% of Californians 12 and older are partially or fully vaccinated. (Reese, 7/7)
In news about mask-wearing —
Anti-Mask Protesters Charged In School Board Meeting Uproar
Several anti-mask protesters who disrupted a school district board meeting in Utah earlier this year are now facing criminal charges, officials said. The 11 protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting late last week. Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley says police are still searching for another person who was accused of being involved in the confrontation. (7/6)
Missouri Mayor Who Required Masks Faces Recall Vote
As the coronavirus surges in Missouri, a mayor who imposed a mask requirement and other public safety measures is facing a recall vote, even though the requirements have long since expired. Nixa voters will have the option to recall Mayor Brian Steele at a special election set for Nov. 2, the Springfield News-Leader reports. (7/7)
The Washington Post:
Appalachian Covid Deniers Anger Nurses In Virginia
The hospital executives at the lectern called her a hero, and the struggle that had earned Emily Boucher that distinction showed on her face: in the pallor acquired over 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit, the rings beneath eyes that watched almost every day as covid-19 patients gasped for their final breaths. The pandemic had hit late but hard in the Appalachian highlands — the mountainous region that includes Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee — and over the winter many of its victims had ended up on ventilators tended by Boucher and her fellow nurses at Johnston Memorial Hospital. (Jamison, 7/6)
Unending Grief Of COVID-19 Deaths Causing Problems For Some
Kelly Brown’s 74-year-old father got sick first with COVID-19, followed by her 71-year-old mom just two days later. John and Judy Trzebiatowski died of the illness just a week apart last August, sending Brown into a black tunnel of grief that doesn’t seem to have an end. Health restrictions stripped away the things that normally help people deal with death, such as bedside visits at the Wisconsin hospital where they were treated and a big funeral with hugs and tears, she said. That left Brown to deal with her sorrow on her own, and now she’s having a hard time seeing a way forward. (Reeves, 7/6)
Combining tocilizumab and sarilumab along with corticosteroids reduced the risk of death by 17% compared with corticosteroids alone.
WHO Advises 2 Monoclonal Antibodies For Severe COVID
The World Health Organization (WHO) today recommended the use of anti-inflammatory monoclonal antibodies—tocilizumab and sarilumab—alongside corticosteroids for treating patients who have severe or critical COVID-19 infections. … They found that the interleukin-6 antagonists tocilizumab and sarilumab reduced the risk of death and the need for mechanical ventilation. The WHO coordinated the study, which included partners from the United Kingdom. (Schnirring, 7/6)
Drug That Blocks Immune System Overload Reduces Covid-19 Deaths
Combining two inflammation-blocking drugs reduces hospitalization and death from Covid-19 compared with a standard therapy, according to the World Health Organization. Adding drugs that block an immune protein called interleukin-6 to an already widely used treatment, corticosteroids, reduces the risk of death and the need for breathing assistance, the health agency said Tuesday in a statement. The recommendation was based on 27 trials involving almost 11,000 people. (Shepherd, 7/6)
Roche Urged To Cut Price Of Drug Now Recommended For Covid-19
After the World Health Organization recommended a Roche (RHHBY) drug to treat severe Covid-19, Doctors Without Borders quickly urged the drug maker to “end its monopoly” by lowering the price of the medicine and sharing its technology in order to quickly widen access. Meta-analyses of more than 10,000 patients who were enrolled in 27 clinical trials founds that two medicines — Roche’s Actemra and Kevzara from Sanofi — lowered the risk of death by 13% compared to standard care, especially when given with corticosteroids. The WHO noted these were the first drugs to be found effective against Covid-19 since corticosteroids were recommended last September. (Silverman, 7/6)
In other covid research —
Los Angeles Times:
Can COVID-19 Cause Lasting Erectile Dysfunction?
Can COVID-19 cause lasting erectile dysfunction? This is now the topic of some discussion among doctors and health experts as they try to better understand the effects of the coronavirus. The problem has been observed in some patients, but experts agree more study is needed to form any conclusions. Some men are coming into doctors’ offices saying erectile dysfunction has occurred following a COVID-19 infection, said Dr. Ryan Berglund, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic. At the moment, there’s primarily anecdotal evidence, and “we don’t know the scale of the problem at this point.” (Lin II, 7/6)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Can ‘Sniff Training’ Restore COVID Survivors’ Sense Of Smell?
Cat Berner slid a chicken into the oven in November and turned to chopping vegetables. It didn’t take long for her roommate to come running into the kitchen of their San Francisco flat, crying, “What’s burning?” Berner whirled around. “What are you talking about?” Berner, 31, an executive assistant for a venture capital firm, remembers that day as a turning point in her continuing effort to regain the sense of smell stolen by the coronavirus. It happened a few days after she and her friends, who had pledged to socialize only with each other, had a Halloween party and gave each other COVID-19. (Asimov, 7/6)
The New York Times:
Birthday Parties As Virus Vector
At the height of the pandemic, it was easy to worry that strangers would give you the virus. But a new study of what happened after people’s birthdays suggests that people we trust were also a common source of viral spread. Private gatherings have been harder for researchers to measure than big public events — they’re private, after all. And there has been a fierce debate for months among epidemiologists about just how big a factor they have been in how coronavirus moved from person to person. (Sanger-Katz, 7/5)