Despite the fact that the global COVID-19 hotspots have moved to other nations, led by India and Brazil, the U.S. numbers remain staggeringly bad. Some 609,797 people have died in the United States, which is 15% of the global total. Total confirmed cases in America so far number 33,756,349, about 18% of the world number. Granted, the worst seems to be over for the United States. Increases in confirmed and fatal cases are a fraction of what they were early this year.
One reason the spread of the disease has slowed is a tremendous drive toward high vaccination levels. Fifty-eight percent of Americans over 18 have been vaccinated. In several states, that number is over 60%. Vaccine hesitancy and difficulty reaching areas with low population density have caused extremely low rates in other states, particularly in the South. The figure in Mississippi is only 38%.
As the Delta variant of the disease begins to spread rapidly across the country, there is a worry that these low vaccination states are vulnerable to growing numbers of cases and deaths. The variant appears to spread much more aggressively than earlier versions.
Some epidemiologists and public health offices say that hospitalizations are the most critical measure of the spread and threat of COVID-19. According to a research paper published by the National Institutes of Health titled “Measure what matters: Counts of hospitalized patients are a better metric for health system capacity planning for a reopening”:
Without using local hospitalization rates and the age distribution of positive patients, current models are likely to overestimate the resource burden of COVID-19. It is imperative that health systems start using these data to quantify effects of SIP (shelter-in-place) and aid reopening planning.
The way that experts measure COVID-19 data from state to state and county to county is per 100,000 people. It is the only way to compared locations with different population sizes. Based on this, the county with the highest number of hospitalizations over the past seven days is Hopkins County, Kentucky. As of June 29, its figure is 254.84 per 100,000.
Hopkins County has a population of 44,686. Of these, nearly 90% are white. The median household income is $47,170, about $20,000 below the national figure. The 18.1% poverty rate is sharply above the national figure.