Over the past week, 48 states saw an increase in Covid-19 cases, with 30 reporting a more than 50% increase, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.
Low vaccination rates in some areas and increased spread of the more contagious Delta variant are making an already deadly virus even worse, especially for younger, healthy people, Dr. Catherine O’Neal, an infectious disease specialist at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday.
“This year’s virus is not last year’s virus. It’s attacking our 40-year-olds. It’s attacking our parents and young grandparents, and it’s getting our kids. And so understanding how different this is and that we can’t take our experience from last year and apply it to today and assume we’re going to be OK is our biggest fight right now,” O’Neal said.
She said her Covid-19 unit now has more patients she would have previously considered healthy than ever before, including people in their 20s.
“You have to get vaccinated,” O’Neal said. “That’s the only way to end it. Masks and mitigation, they’re not gonna take it. It’s going to be vaccination.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday that, since February, 97% of cases and deaths related to Covid-19 in the state were among those who were not fully vaccinated.
As of Saturday, just 36.1% of Louisiana’s population was fully vaccinated according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles County, cases are surging as officials reinstate an indoor mask requirement. The Covid-19 case rate has soared by 300% since July 4, according to health officials.
“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 1,827 new cases of COVID-19; a four-fold increase from the 457 cases seen on July 4 and an eight-fold increase from the 210 cases seen on June 15,” officials said Saturday in a news release. “This is due to the presence of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown.”
The number of those hospitalized with the virus in the county has more than doubled from the previous month, now standing at 462 people, officials said.
Daughter urges vaccination after losing her mother to Covid-19
Rachel Maginn Rosser, who recently lost her 63-year-old mother to Covid-19, said she believes if her mom had been vaccinated, she would still be alive today.
“She was in the best shape of her life. She was working out five times a week with a personal trainer. She loved to go out and have fun. She was a social butterfly. And she got sick, and it was just a slow decline from there,” Rosser told CNN’s Pamela Brown Saturday.
Rosser, who lives in Arkansas, said her mother, Kim Maginn, had a sore throat and fever for about a week. Her mother was “shocked” when she went to the doctor last month and found out it wasn’t strep, but Covid-19, she said.
“I had to stay outside of her room and call her on her cell phone to talk to her. She looked really small in the bed. It was hard for her to talk because she was struggling to breathe,” Rosser said.
Rosser, who’s a nurse, said her mother didn’t get vaccinated because she believed that since she hadn’t already been infected she wasn’t going to get sick.
She said she pleaded her mom to get vaccinated.
“I tried several different tactics. I laid all the facts out for her. I tried to plead to her emotional side of ‘What would we do without you? Could you imagine our life without you?'” Rosser said.
“Part of me wishes I had tried harder. But she was really stubborn. She was stubborn but she wasn’t stupid. I think eventually I would have been able to convince her, but she got sick and she got Covid. And so there wasn’t anymore time to try and convince her.”
“I really do feel that it is preventable,” Rosser said. “I think that if she had been vaccinated, she may have still gotten sick. Because she was 63, she may have even ended up in the hospital, but I do not think that it would have ended in her death if she had been vaccinated.”
Rosser said she hopes sharing her family’s story will help encourage others who are vaccine hesitant to get the shot.
“This virus … doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re old or you’re young, or you’re healthy or you’re not. Once you get it, it can be devastating to your family,” Rosser said.
She encouraged people to “keep talking to their loved ones and keep trying to convince them because I wouldn’t want anybody else to have to go through this.”
Cases among children spreading at summer gatherings
Children who aren’t old enough to receive a vaccine remain at risk for catching Covid-19, including in settings such as summer camps, where many people from different households are mingling.
In North Carolina, three out-of-state campers at Camp Daniel Boone Scout Camp in Haywood County tested positive for Covid-19, local health officials said.
The camp canceled its remaining sessions and notified health officials immediately when the trio tested positive on July 14, according to a statement from Daniel Boone Council, Boy Scouts of America. The camp also informed all individuals who attended camp during that time of their potential exposure.
The camp had been following its “COVID-19 Mitigation Plan,” which was approved by county health officials, the statement said. Mitigation measures included a pre-event medical screening checklist, daily temperature checks, social distancing, a mask requirement for indoor and group settings, and handwashing and sanitizing stations throughout the camp.
“These events bring to light that Covid-19 is still prevalent in our community. It is not gone and this is not over. We continue to see an uptick in positive cases as people gather in large groups and remain unvaccinated,” Haywood County Public Health Director Sarah Henderson said.
Similarly, in Utah County, Utah, officials are investigating Covid-19 cases at more than a dozen summer camps for children, according to Aislynn Tolman-Hill, a public information officer for the county’s health department.
“We are hearing and know that there are MANY instances where symptomatic campers are sent home but not getting tested,” Tolman-Hill told CNN in an email. “This is obviously a huge concern. If we are not made aware of these situations, we cannot do contact tracing and notification of those exposed.”
Local health records in Utah County show less than 30% of children 12-18 are fully vaccinated. State law prohibits the Utah County Health Department from requiring camps to follow any coronavirus rules or procedures, according to Tolman-Hill.
“All we can do is educate and advocate,” she said.
Andy Rose and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.