Sep 2, 2021 - Health

COVID cases are up 14%

Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Coronavirus infections continue to climb all across the U.S., with few new solutions on the horizon.

The big picture: There are some initial signs that things may be starting to get better in the South, which has experienced the worst of this wave, but America’s springtime dreams of putting the pandemic behind us seem a lot less realistic now.

By the numbers: On average, about 160,000 Americans now test positive for COVID-19 each day — a 14% increase, nationwide, over the past two weeks.

  • A small handful of hotspots, including Florida, Louisiana and Missouri, have begun to improve over the past two weeks, although cases are still rising in 44 states.
  • The biggest increases remain clustered largely in the Southeast, along with Indiana, West Virginia and South Dakota.

What we’re watching: Nationwide, COVID-19 hospitalizations are beginning to tick down, largely due to improvements in the South, Bloomberg reports. That could be a momentary blip, or it could signal that the fourth wave is about to recede.

  • Even so, hospital capacity still remains dangerously strained in some parts of the country. Five Southeastern states — Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Arkansas — are still using over 90% of their ICU beds, per CNN.
  • And in Kentucky, the National Guard has been deployed to help overburdened hospitals keep their operations running.

Vaccinations gained some steam over the course of August, as cases and hospitalizations spiked. About 60% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, and roughly 72% have at least one shot.

The bottom line: More vaccinations will keep more people alive and out of the hospital, even as the Delta variant continues to circulate.

Go deeper