The highly transmissible delta variant now accounts for more than 50 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—a sharp increase from 30 percent two weeks ago.
The strain is most prevalent in the Midwest and rural regions where vaccination rates are lower. New York City held a ticker-tape parade for first responders on Wednesday, while Missouri reported an increase in cases and deaths.
Scientists have detected the delta variant in over 100 countries. It is on track to become the dominant strain worldwide.
Will vaccines work against it? So far, multiple studies report that vaccines still work against the delta variant. A U.K. report showed that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are 96 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization.
More than 180 million Americans have received at least one shot, with 48 percent fully vaccinated. While the number of cases in the United States dropped dramatically from January to May, they have steadied since June.
Deaths from COVID-19 continue to decline in the United States, with fewer than 300 deaths per day, the lowest rate since March 2020.
This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.