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AdventHealth hospital in Orlando is seen on the day that hospital officials reported they were elevating to level red with a full ICU and more than 1,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Coronavirus hospitalizations in the South are once again surging — in some cases to levels near or above their previous records.

Why it matters: Overwhelmed hospitals, especially paired with staffing shortages, cause whole communities to suffer.

By the numbers: More than 5,400 coronavirus patients were admitted to the hospital on average during the week of July 21-27, according to the CDC, a 46% increase over the week prior.

  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told Congress in a briefing yesterday that hospitalizations are at about the same level they were this time a year ago — well before we had a vaccine.

What's happening: State health officials say nearly all hospitalized coronavirus patients are unvaccinated.

  • States in the South and Midwest — including Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Missouri — make up more than half of the country's hospitalizations.

Florida has the largest outbreak in the country, and has the highest seven-day average of cases since the state's previous peak in January.

  • Less than 49% of the state's population is fully vaccinated, per HHS.
  • Some hospitals are swamped. AdventHealth in Central Florida, for example, announced Thursday that it has about 1,000 coronavirus patients hospitalized, the highest it's ever admitted at once.

Louisiana is experiencing hospitalization rates that it hasn’t seen since March 2020, Joseph Kanter, the state's health officer, said on a call with reporters on Thursday.

  • "We didn’t think this far into the pandemic that we would be right back here. It feels like we never left, unfortunately," he said.

What's next: Vaccination is the best way to reverse the alarming uptick in hospitalizations, several health officials told Axios.

  • Luckily, some hotspots are seeing a spike in vaccination appointments.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 5, 2021 - Health

New COVID pill shows the need for widescale testing

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Pfizer's new COVID-19 antiviral is highly effective when given early in the course of an infection — underscoring the importance of cheap, easily accessible COVID-19 tests, including at-home rapid versions.

Driving the news: Pfizer's oral antiviral drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 89%, according to interim results from a mid-to-late-stage study announced by the company on Friday, my colleague Rebecca Falconer writes.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Exclusive: Meta's civil rights chief aims to "turn the knob" for good

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Meta

A year ago, Facebook brought in Roy Austin, Jr. to lead a new team focused on civil rights. Since then, he has assembled a squad of experts advising parent company Meta on everything from voting rights to hate speech to ensuring new products don't have discriminatory impact.

The big picture: Austin's team of nine must tackle those tough issues inside a company of nearly 70,000 employees serving more than 3 billion users around the world.

Momentum builds for salary transparency

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York City will soon require employers to supply a salary range when they're advertising a position — the biggest step yet in the growing but controversial movement for pay transparency.

Why it matters: Laws like New York's aim to give workers, particularly women and people of color, more power in job negotiations. But the rise in remote work is throwing a wrench into the effort.