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Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging once again, threatening to overburden some local health care systems just as badly as the waves that hit last spring and summer.

Why it matters: It's hard to argue that a person's vaccination status doesn't impact anyone but themselves when hospitals around the country are filling up.

Where it stands: More than 40,000 patients are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 infections.

  • Florida is setting new COVID-19 hospitalization records, forcing the state's largest hospital systems to limit visitors, expand coronavirus units and prepare for staffing shortages, ABC News reports.
  • Hospitalizations in this wave of the pandemic "clearly will surpass waves 1 and 2," tweeted Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research.

Between the lines: The vast majority of hospitalized coronavirus patients are unvaccinated.

  • But a very small percentage of vaccinated people do develop COVID-19 infections, and small percentage of that small percentage do require hospitalization.
  • As the number of overall cases continues to grow, so will the number of breakthrough hospitalizations — but not nearly as quickly as hospitalizations among the unvaccinated.

What we're watching: In many states where the virus is taking off, there's no political appetite at all for the mitigation policies that would help slow Delta's spread.

  • That means the steep increase in hospitalizations can and will get worse — straining more health care systems and potentially disrupting entire communities' access to care.

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

CDC: Moderna vaccine most effective against hospitalization in U.S.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Overall healthy adults with the Moderna COVID vaccine had 93% vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization over five months compared to those with 88% protection with Pfizer and 71% from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new report out Friday from the CDC shows.

Why it matters: The report comes as the Food and Drug Administrations meets Friday to consider whether to endorse a contentious plan for booster shots among the fully vaccinated.

Sep 18, 2021 - Health

Mississippi reports rise in COVID-19 deaths among pregnant women

Dr. Thomas Dobbs speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2020. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At least eight pregnant women in Mississippi, who weren't fully vaccinated, have died of COVID-19 since late July, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The eight pregnant women who have died from the virus more than doubles the state's pandemic total in just two months.

Sep 18, 2021 - Health

Most Kentucky school boards vote in favor of mask mandates

Photo: Paul Bersebach, MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

A majority of school boards in Kentucky voted in favor of mask mandates, according to the Kentucky School Board Association.

Why it matters: A week ago, Kentucky's Republican-dominated legislature voted to revoke a statewide mask mandate in public schools that was meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The decision on masks would instead be left up to individual districts.