The Delta variant continues to tighten its grip on the United States, including Minnesota where more cases that undergo genomic sequencing are being identified as the variant that has fueled significant health crises in under-vaccinated countries.
Nationally, Delta is causing explosive growth in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S., with the New York Times reporting that it now accounts for 83% of all cases that are analyzed – an increase from 52% just two weeks ago.
Cases nationally have tripled from just over 12,000 per day two weeks ago to more than 35,000 daily through July 19. Hospitalizations are up 45% and deaths have increased by 75% to more than 320 per day.
While it's miles away from the sickening totals of the thousands of Americans dying per day November through January, it is trending in the wrong direction and mainly impacting the country's unvaccinated population.
Since mid-June, 57% of cases sequenced in Minnesota have been the Delta variant, with the percentage increasing to more than 75% since July 1, said Minnesota Department of Health spokesperson Scott Smith.
Smith noted that the health department has identified a total of 268 Delta cases in Minnesota, 12% of which resulted in hospitalization and 2% in death. Of those with confirmed cases of Delta who were hospitalized or died, the "vast majority" were unvaccinated.
"We can confidently say that the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurring in MN are in unvaccinated people," said Smith.
According to the Los Angeles Times, there have been 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County in the past week, 99% of them being unvaccinated people. What's more is that everyone hospitalized with COVID in L.A.'s public hospitals is unvaccinated, the report says.
That appears to be the general trend nationwide. People most at risk for infection, severe illness and potentially death are the unvaccinated. And outbreaks are more likely in locations where vaccination rates are lowest.
There have been almost no "breakthrough" cases in Minnesota, which is when a positive test occurs in a fully vaccinated person. (That means, at least 14 days after receiving either the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)
Smith said "99.9 percent of those vaccinated in MN have not developed COVID-19 based on our breakthrough data."
Health department data show that 53.3% of Minnesotans are fully vaccinated. That number jumps to 64.9% of Minnesota's age 16-plus population, and 89.3% of the state's age 65-plus population.