Recently, in response to a 279% increase in COVID case rates, Los Angeles County re-instituted its facemask mandate for all indoor activities.
Elsewhere, epidemiologists are growing concerned about our summer 2021 uptick in U.S. COVID cases, hospitalization, and death rates—including some localized outbreaks in states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Nevada.
Forty-eight U.S. states are reporting increased infection rates—some by as much as 15%. Plus, in 19 states, case rates have doubled.
These documented case rates are unlikely to include asymptomatic individuals or those who are mildly affected—but can still spread the virus.
5 Factors Behind the Summer 2021 COVID Cases and Hospitalizations
- The Delta Variant: Virologists warn that the Delta variant—which originated in India—is the most lethal mutant of the coronavirus to date. Delta has been detected in 114 countries and is now the dominant strain in the U.K. and the U.S. where it has been detected in all 50 U.S. states–including some localized clusters. For example, since July 12, North Dakota has seen a 1,900% increase in cases.
Delta spreads earlier and 225% faster than the original version of the coronavirus. It also makes us much sicker and has shown some resistance to previous or standard infection control measures and human immunity.
- Low U.S. vaccination rates: A reported 99.5% of new COVID cases are among the unvaccinated. According to the CDC vaccine tracker, by mid July, only 57% of eligible Americans have been fully vaccinated, while 65.7% have had one dose. However, in some states, the vaccination rates linger in the low 40s or high 30s—particularly among young adults. To date, there is no FDA-approved vaccine available for children under age 12.
“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, as reported in STAT Health News. She added: “our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations, and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated.”
- Hot-weather events: Last year, during its 2020 press briefings, the CDC encouraged social distancing and warned against all large gatherings—particularly indoors. Now, as most states have lifted their social distancing restrictions, many of us have resumed normal travel and socializations—including those summertime concerts and barbecues. These events increase the risk for disease spread—particularly among the unvaccinated. Also, in southern states and in those areas experiencing un-precedented 2021 heat waves, many of our social gatherings happen in indoor, air-conditioned spaces.
- Breakthrough infections: Israel, the poster child for COVID vaccinations and the first country to reach herd immunity, has seen a recent surge in COVID cases. Surprisingly enough, most of these new cases are among the vaccinated. Due to a strong vaccination program that benefited from an early deal with Pfizer, Israel’s infection rate plummeted to the point that COVID almost disappeared; however, the arrival of the more vaccine resistant Delta variant has put an end to this extremely low infection rate. It started with a school outbreak. Delta quickly spread among the unvaccinated students and then on to vaccinated teachers. Then another school outbreak occurred and then another. By mid-July 399 vaccinated people tested positive for the virus compared to 320 unvaccinated people. These numbers have been surging daily culminating in Israel’s decision on Thursday to administer a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to those 60 and older. For those under 60 who think they are in the clear, think again, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), told the CBS news program “Face the Nation:” “For most people who get this Delta variant, it’s going to be the most serious virus they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.”
- Delta plus and other COVID variants: In the U.K., where Delta is now the dominant strain, 40% of those cases are identified as Delta plus, a mutation of “ordinary Delta.” Elsewhere, Delta plus cases have been reported in nine other countries, including at least 85 cases of Delta plus cases in the U.S. Also, the gamma variant, identified in Brazil, has been identified in Washington State and has been responsible for 18% of July 2021 cases in Florida. In South America, Lambda, a more recent variant, is spreading.
Based on Rising Infection Rates, What Will Our School Re-Openings Look Like?
While the CDC has updated its guidelines and mask mandates for in-person learning and public schools, based on their zero-rate of vaccinations (there is no approved vaccine for children), the Delta strain puts children particularly at risk. In fact, a recent U.K. survey showed that children ages 5-15 and young adults ages 18-24, were five times more likely to test positive for the Delta strain than those who are 65 and older.
Dr. Peter Hotez, vaccinologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, has warned that 30% of infected children will develop long-haul COVID, including life-limiting symptoms that can last for months. Again, while many children or teens are a-symptomatic, they can transmit the virus—particularly to those who are unvaccinated.
Safe Not Sorry: Opteev’s COVID Solution for School and Health Administrators
Just in time for Fall 2021, and as part of its suite of viral detection products, Opteev® is in the process launching ViraWarn™, the first ever plug-in airborne virus and COVID-19 detector.
Based on the device’s patented sensor technology, ViraWarn can real-time detect the spike proteins present in viruses from a distance of 10 feet. If or when a virus is detected, schools, hospitals, conference sites or workplaces can instantly evacuate and protect indoor spaces. It also allows them to immediately engage their COVID screening and testing protocols.
ViraWarn is just one of Opteev’s suite of products and part of the company’s BioViral Prevention Plan to keep homes, classrooms, healthcare and other public-use facilities safe.
Learn more about Opteev’s BioViral Prevention Plan: Individuals, school systems, counties, municipalities, healthcare facilities can learn more about ViraWarn and our entire BioViral Prevention Plan at Opteev.com or by calling +1-443-457-1370 or email: [email protected].