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Reproduced from Surgo Ventures; Data: CDC, Surgo Ventures; Note: Vaccination rate indicates the percentage of the state population that is fully vaccinated; Map: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Some states — particularly those in the South — are at much higher risk for bad coronavirus outbreaks not only due to low vaccination rates, but also because their populations were more vulnerable to begin with.

Why it matters: In many ways, the pandemic feels over in the U.S. But in some parts of the country, that feeling may be short-lived, especially as new variants continue to spread.

Driving the news: Although experts are concerned about the growing prevalence of the Delta variant in the U.S., evidence is accumulating that vaccines work well against it.

  • "The Delta variant accounts for a rapidly rising proportion of US cases, and that proportion will continue to grow and could cause clusters and outbreaks, particularly in areas of the country and in demographic groups that have lower vaccination rates," tweeted former CDC director Tom Frieden.
  • The virus will continue to evolve as long as it's given the opportunity to continue spreading around the world.

Between the lines: Certain risk factors, like a high rate of underlying conditions or poor access to health care, make some communities more vulnerable to severe outbreaks than others.

  • Arguably, people who live in these areas would benefit most from vaccination, as they're at highest risk.
  • But that's not what's happening. Instead, some of the most vulnerable states in the country — like Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia — have some of the country's lowest vaccination rates, according to an analysis by Surgo Ventures.

The bottom line: Until vaccines were widely available, Americans suffered through the pandemic together.

  • Going forward, most of the suffering will likely be concentrated among people who remain unvaccinated.

Go deeper

Sep 28, 2021 - World

Japan to lift nationwide COVID-19 emergency restrictions

Photo: Mauro Ujetto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that the country's coronavirus state of emergency will end this week.

State of play: Japanese economic minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said "[m]easures will be gradually eased out to prevent early re-infection." Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said restrictions will end to allow people "to resume daily lives," adding that vaccination efforts will continue to prepare for a future virus resurgence, per AP.

Sep 28, 2021 - World

Vatican orders all employees to get vaccine or submit to testing

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

The Vatican City State said Tuesday that it will require all employees to provide proof of vaccination or documentation of a recent negative COVID test, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Pope Francis, who was vaccinated in January, has campaigned for people to get the shots, calling it a moral duty. Some Catholics, however, have argued for exemptions on religious grounds.

Sep 28, 2021 - Sports

LeBron James confirms he is vaccinated against COVID

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

NBA star LeBron James confirmed Tuesday that he has been vaccinated against COVID-19 as the league prepares for the start of the 2021-22 season next month.

The big picture: Over 90% of NBA players are fully vaccinated, the National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said in a statement Tuesday.