As the COVID-19 Delta variant surges across the United States, two factors are the best protection against it: vaccination and mask-wearing. In some states, there is absolutely no mandate to wear masks. In others, vaccination rates are extremely low. In one state, both factors have caused a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Recently, one in five new cases across the country has been in Florida. In another state, almost no one is in the hospital due to a COVID-19 infection.
It is easy to forget how badly COVID-19 has savaged the United States since January 2020. Officially, America has had 35,039,644 confirmed cases, which is about 18% of the world total, despite large surges in high population countries such as Brazil, India and Indonesia. The number of U.S. fatal cases is 618,197, or about 15% of the global figure. Most of the cases came in waves. The first was in April of last year. Another occurred in late summer, and the worst just after the December holidays. A fourth wave apparently has started, and it has been particularly brutal in states with low vaccination rates, several of which have rates of little more than 40%. In some other states, the vaccination rates are above 60%.
The most critical measure of the rise in cases and deaths is hospitalizations. This figure is increasing particularly fast in states and counties with low vaccination rates. Public health officials trace cases, deaths and hospitalizations by 100,000, which allows comparisons of large counties and states with those that are much smaller.
In Vermont, the hospitalization rate is below one per 100,000. Seven counties have rates that low. They are Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, Orleans and Windham. In Chittenden, Franklin and Lamoille, the rates have dropped 45% in the past 14 days. In another, Caledonia, cases have been less than 1 per 100,000 as measured over the past seven days. There have been no COVID-19 deaths in the state over the past seven days.