Covid-19 transmission is accelerating in several poorly vaccinated states, primarily in the South, and more young people are turning up at hospitals. The data present the clearest sign of a rebound in the U.S. in months.
In Missouri, Arkansas and Utah, the seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed Covid-19 has increased more than 30% in the past two weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In Mississippi, the hospitalization rate is up 5% in the period.
The jump in hospitalization is particularly jarring among 18- to 29-year-olds in the outlier states.
The U.S. has made extraordinary progress in its vaccine push, giving at least one jab to more than 53% of the population. But all the states with mounting transmission trail the national average, and Mississippi has given a single jab to just 35%. Young people are less likely to be vaccinated than older groups.
In Arkansas, Missouri and Utah, reported Covid-19 cases mirror the concerning trends in hospitalizations. In other places -- namely, Mississippi -- they don’t. Testing has dropped off significantly, with the seven-day average nationwide plummeting 55% in the past three months, which makes case counts a less reliable indicator.
Most Covid-19 projections expect subdued transmission during the summer, thanks in part to the seasonal nature of the virus. But the so-called Sun Belt surge last year showed that many Southern states can remain vulnerable as hot summer days drive people indoors in search of air-conditioning.
Even for the worst-afflicted states, the situation is nowhere near as alarming as what residents survived as recently as February; absolute numbers of hospitalizations remain far lower. But the signs of an uptick come amid a jump in cases in the U.K. attributed to the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.
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