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Southern US States Face Dire Surges in COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations

  • Last week, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida each recorded more than 500,000 new COVID-19 cases.
  • Hospitalizations in Florida have increased by 66% over the last two weeks.
  • Mississippi announced it will contract at least 1,378 medical professionals to help its hospitals with staffing shortages.

With low vaccination rates and increasing transmission in the South, daily averages of COVID-19 cases in the United States continue to rapidly increase compared to the rest of the world.

“This is starting to look really ominous in the South… If you look at rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they’re actually probably the highest in the world,” Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday.

The US is averaging more than three times the amount of daily cases in Iran and India, the countries with the second- and third-highest rates respectively, according to data from The New York Times. CDC maps show that transmission is increasing in the South, particularly in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, with each state recording more than 500,000 new cases in the last week.

Florida has seen a 66% increase in hospitalizations over the last two weeks, according to data from The New York Times. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis banned mask mandates in schools weeks before students returned and threatened to withhold the paychecks of superintendents and members who enforced mandates.

Of the five states with the lowest vaccination percentages, three — Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana — are located in the South, according to Our World in Data.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent guidance on mask-wearing “foolish” during a speech in late July at a county fair, the Clarion Ledger reported.

Just over two weeks later, he extended Mississippi’s state of emergency by 30 days and announced the state will contract at least 1,378 medical professionals to help combat COVID-19 amidst a statewide health care staff shortage, according to a Facebook post by Reeves.

“The difference between this peak and our last peak is evident by the data. That difference lies within those who are vaccinated and those who are not,” Reeves said in the Facebook post, although he has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate. “I want to be clear. I’ve been vaccinated. My family has been vaccinated. I believe the vaccines are safe, effective, and are the best tool we have to beat the virus.”


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