These communities remain at high risk for dangerous Covid-19 variants rapidly increasing in US, expert warns

Families are mourning loved ones who died of coronavirus after being hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports.

Posted: Jun 17, 2021 4:05 PM
Updated: Jun 17, 2021 4:13 PM


The country continued this week on a path to reopening from the Covid-19 pandemic, with major population centers such as New York and California pulling back on restrictions following increased vaccinations and lowered infections.

Yet with overall vaccination rates in the US slowing this month when compared to highs in April, health officials are raising awareness about the uneven distribution of vaccines in different parts of the country.

"I'm very unconcerned for people who have been vaccinated, and I'm more concerned for people who have not been vaccinated and the communities that are largely unvaccinated," Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for the Biden administration's Covid-19 response, told CNN's Don Lemon on Wednesday.

Slavitt, who earlier described the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, as "Covid on steroids," noted people who are in high vaccination areas are likely to know others likeminded about inoculations, and places with few vaccinations are more susceptible to clusters of Covid-19 infections.

"In those communities, a Covid that spreads twice as fast is not a good thing," Slavitt said.

The Delta variant, a form of Covid-19 first identified in India, has increased to approximately 10% of coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The strain has been listed by the CDC as a "variant of concern," meaning scientists believe it is more transmittable and can cause more severe disease.

Recent studies demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccines against variants such as Delta, with many in the health community urging to Americans that the best way to defend against Covid-19 is preemptive vaccination and immunization.

"It's one more reason for people to take this seriously and say, 'Wow, we've got great vaccines, we're so lucky to have them, maybe I should take one or two,'" Slavitt said.

Recent study points to long-term dangers of Covid-19

This week, the US surpassed 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, meaning approximately one in 550 Americans have died from Covid-19.

The rate of infection and deaths in the country have slowed dramatically since the 2020 holiday season, which is largely credited by health experts to the millions of Americans who have since received vaccines. Despite the improved outlook toward beating the pandemic, the risk of contracting Covid-19 remains for many who have not yet been vaccinated.

In an analysis of nearly 2 million people who had a Covid-19 diagnosis between February and December 2020, a new white paper study from FAIR Health points to the dangers of contracting Covid-19 and how symptoms for some can last well beyond what is hoped for after surviving the infection.

Nearly a quarter of Covid-19 patients, 23.2%, had at least one post-Covid condition 30 or more days after their initial diagnosis, according to the study posted on Tuesday.

While post-Covid conditions were found to a greater extent in patients who had more severe Covid-19, they were also found in a "substantial" share of asymptomatic cases.

Half of patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19 had a post-Covid condition 30 days or more after their initial diagnosis, as did 27.5% of those who had symptoms but were not hospitalized and 19% who were asymptomatic.

Pain and breathing difficulties were the top two conditions cited. Most of the post-Covid conditions studied were more common in females, yet there were 12 conditions that were more commonly experienced by males.

One of these, cardiac inflammation, the researchers call "notable" as the age distribution was skewed towards a younger cohort. The largest share -- 25.4% -- of patients reporting this condition were in the 19- to 29-year-old age group, a number that was also disproportionate to the age group's share of Covid patients overall.

FAIR Health says it believes this is the largest population studied for post-Covid conditions and the study was not formally peer-reviewed but was evaluated by an independent academic reviewer.

Rare heart-related risk after vaccination resolved in days, study finds

While a risk of heart inflammation following vaccination for younger individuals is being examined by federal health officials, prompting discussions during a recent FDA committee meeting over how to prepare for vaccinating for children under the age of 12, another study found that such symptoms resolved themselves within days.

Wednesday's report in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation suggests that myocarditis, an uncommon condition that causes inflammation in the wall of the heart muscle, after vaccination may be temporary and straightforward to treat.

Seven patients, all of whom were male and between the ages of 19 and 39, hospitalized with a myocarditis-like illness after vaccination were reported to the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

Diagnosis of the conditions was confirmed through testing and all had stable vital signs. Treatment for the patients involved heart drugs known as beta-blockers and anti-inflammatory medication, and the patients were discharged from the hospital within two to four days.

"The clinical course of vaccine-associated myocarditis-like illness appears favorable, with resolution of symptoms in all patients," wrote the team led by Dr. Christopher deFilippi of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Virginia.

"Given the potential morbidity of Covid-19 infection even in younger adults, the risk-benefit decision for vaccination remains highly favorable," they added.

Outreach for vaccinations continues

Approximately 146.5 million people, or 44.1% of the US population, are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data released Thursday.

Thirteen states have fully vaccinated more than half their residents and 14 states have hit the Biden administration's goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4.

To reach out to the many who remain unvaccinated, health officials continue to promote new ways to convince Americans of the need to inoculate.

The US Department of Health and Human Services will enlist student ambassadors 16 years and older to help promote Covid-19 vaccination, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said Wednesday.

"We want to use those students who want to be ambassadors to their fellow students to get them out and get vaccinated," Becerra said at a roundtable with Anacostia High School students in Washington, DC.

Governors and state officials have also turned to financial incentives during the vaccination rollout, with several states promoting lotteries for vaccinated people to boost interest, even in places that have done relatively well with vaccination efforts.

On Wednesday, Maine announced a sweepstakes that will reward one vaccinated winner with $1 for every person vaccinated in the state by July 4.

The cash winnings increase by $1 for every Maine resident who receives at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, so "the more people vaccinated, the higher the prize," according to a statement from Governor Janet Mills' office.

"Maine is a national leader in Covid-19 vaccination thanks to the more than 876,000 people who have already rolled up their sleeves," Mills said, adding that residents ages 12 and up who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine can enter for a chance to win.

According to the release, as of June 15, 74% of eligible Maine residents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and Maine ranks third among states in the percent of eligible residents who are fully vaccinated.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1342777

Reported Deaths: 21471
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1502191556
Cuyahoga1327732318
Hamilton962791318
Montgomery659161136
Summit555141045
Lucas50248862
Butler46732653
Stark40741974
Lorain31004529
Warren29609328
Mahoning26462637
Clermont25206287
Lake24339416
Delaware22014143
Licking20180241
Fairfield20139221
Greene19955268
Trumbull19500508
Medina19478286
Clark17565325
Richland15949231
Portage15851228
Wood15438208
Allen13875256
Miami13549249
Muskingum12261149
Wayne11647237
Columbiana11344239
Tuscarawas10657265
Marion10509148
Pickaway10301128
Scioto10082126
Erie9618171
Ross9209174
Lawrence8516116
Hancock8298141
Ashtabula8180185
Geauga8066155
Belmont7966184
Jefferson7324168
Huron7253127
Union717849
Washington7037119
Athens681064
Sandusky6734133
Darke6559136
Knox6475121
Seneca6237137
Ashland5808112
Auglaize580488
Shelby5654101
Mercer552190
Brown551068
Defiance5361100
Madison535170
Crawford5299114
Highland527581
Fulton520082
Clinton515980
Logan503182
Preble4902110
Putnam4778106
Guernsey454661
Williams448281
Champaign436264
Perry432152
Ottawa431184
Jackson413260
Pike378941
Morrow369150
Fayette367652
Coshocton359466
Hardin350069
Adams348069
Gallia338054
Holmes3197108
Henry318868
Van Wert307170
Hocking291669
Wyandot276158
Carroll256752
Paulding236442
Meigs205242
Monroe185049
Noble164840
Morgan159228
Harrison151940
Vinton133918
Unassigned05
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