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We are in danger of becoming "two Americas," warns Dr. Anthony Fauci—one who is vaccinated and safer from COVID-19, and another where unvaccinated people fall prey to the virus. Proof: There is a 300% increase of hospitalizations in Arkansas, and the governor there, Asa Hutchinson—a Republican if you're keeping score—has urged his fellow citizens to get vaccinated. Alas, only 34.3% of its residents are fully vaccinated. "We are now going in the wrong direction yet again with Covid-19 infections here in the state of Arkansas," said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, during the state's weekly briefing Tuesday. Read on to see how this impacts you even if you don't live there, as the variant is spreading—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Arkansas Warned of a Third Surge and Just Saw a Big Spike
The state just reported its highest one-day COVID-19 case spike in 4 months. "With July 4th holiday coming up and eventually kids going back to school, we have to be concerned that this would be a trend that could continue. And if it does, it would appear that we may be in the beginning of the third surge of Covid-19 here in the state of Arkansas," said Patterson. The state is not alone. CDC director Rochelle Walensky said yesterday that this week, there were about 12,600 cases—up 10% from the average last week.
Arkansas Governor Says When Cases Went Down, So Did Vaccine Demand
"Those that are being hospitalized are those that have not been vaccinated and what you see in Arkansas—and that probably replicates some of what you see across the country—…when our cases went down, the demand for vaccines was reduced as well. And so what you have is that people started feeling comfortable. People saw the cases, the hospitalizations down. And so the urgency of getting the vaccine slowed down. We've got to make sure that we do everything we can to get the word out," said Hutchinson. He urged the FDA to grant the vaccine full approval, instead of emergency approval, as that might ease hesitancy.
Arkansas is Not Alone in Rising Cases, and a Variant Will Become Dominant
Arkansas is not the only state hit hard by rising cases. California cases are rising. Mississippi has the least amount of vaccinated people. And a variant is here. "The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is now the second-most dominant strain in the Big Apple, it emerged Friday — as Dr. Anthony Fauci again insisted that vaccines, not masks, are the key to stopping it," reports the New York Post. "City health department data updated Friday shows that the fast-spreading variant, also known scientifically as B.1.617.2, now accounts for 17 percent of confirmed cases tested for strains — meaning it almost represents one in five infections across the Big Apple. That's up from around one in 10 recorded just a week ago, according to the data."
Experts Are Worried About the "Secondary Attack Rate"
"One of the ways epidemiologists determine the transmissibility of a new variant is to examine what's known as the secondary attack rate. This involves tracking the close contacts of people who have been infected with different versions of the virus and seeing how many others tested positive," according to NBC News. "Let's say you have 10 people with 20 close contacts," said Dr. David Dowdy, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told the station. "With one variant, maybe you see five of those close contacts get infected. If a second variant is 50 percent more transmissible, that number would be 50 percent higher. So in this case, you would expect 7.5 of those contacts to be infected, after accounting for vaccination status and whether they had a previous infection."
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How to Stay Safe Out There
"The vaccine, as well as continued practicing of social distancing and masking when that is necessary, are our pathways out of a third surge of Covid-19," Patterson said. "The overwhelming majority of COVID patients in the hospital have not been vaccinated. These vaccines are effective, but we need more Arkansans to get the shot," Hutchinson tweeted last week. So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.