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US surpasses 35 million COVID-19 cases as health experts warn worst yet to come

The United States has surpassed 35 million recorded COVID-19 cases. (File photo)

The United States has surpassed 35 million recorded COVID-19 cases as experts warn that the worst is yet to come with the Delta variant driving a new surge in infections.

The country is now averaging a daily caseload of about 70,000 and recorded more than 100,000 on Friday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Almost 616,800 people have died from the virus in America.

The latest wave has been described by health officials as an “outbreak of the unvaccinated.” Just over half of the US population has been fully vaccinated since the first doses were administered in December.

Public health experts and officials warn that the surge could worsen as long as large segments of the population remain unvaccinated.

The death rate, however, is far below where it was during earlier waves, though it has risen up recently to about 300 deaths per day. At the height of the pandemic, the US was reporting a daily average of more than 3,500 fatalities.

Officials in Southern states, where vaccination rates have generally been lower compared to other parts of the country, are working to get the message out that COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness and death.

“Unfortunately, we can expect Covid numbers to keep growing. People who are unvaccinated or skip their second dose of vaccine are targets for infection,” said Georgia health commissioner Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey.

Georgia has seen its cases more than triple over the past two weeks, the state health department announced Friday, urging residents to get vaccinated.

Florida now leads the US in hospitalization rates for COVID-19, as hospitals around the state are running out of space to accommodate the new arrivals. On Sunday, the Sunshine State broke its record for hospitalizations with more than 10,200 people in hospitals with confirmed coronavirus infection.

America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Sunday that more “pain and suffering” is on the horizon and that the only way to prevent that is for more people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“If you look at the acceleration of the number of cases, the seven-day average has gone up substantially,” Fauci said on ABC’s This Week. “We have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated.”

Despite the rise in cases, driven by the more transmissible Delta variant, Fauci said he did not expect the nation to return to lockdowns.

The warning came days after the CDC changed course to recommend that even vaccinated Americans should being wearing masks again, particularly in states where the Delta variant is spurring a surge. 

Most new infections in the US continue to be among unvaccinated people. With children soon getting back to schools, many of them too young to get a shot, the pandemic could revitalize even further.

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