Coronavirus cases are again spiking in 13 U.S. states, according to an analysis of trends over the past week, including some states among the highest in vaccination rates as health experts warn that more contagious variants of Covid-19 will soon dominate the United States.
An Axios analysis found Michigan by far leading the way in new cases, with the seven-day rolling average spiking by more than 53%.
Michigan is above the U.S. average in terms of vaccination rate, according to Johns Hopkins University, but cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations are all on the rise.
State health officials have placed the blame on highly contagious new variants now spreading in the state, as health experts caution national vaccination efforts are in a race against the contagious strains.
Other states among the highest in vaccination rates—including West Virginia, Maine and Montana—are also dealing with case spikes.
Only two of the states with rising cases—Mississippi and New Hampshire—are below the U.S. average in terms of vaccination rate, according to Johns Hopkins.
What To Watch For
Top health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have said a variant that originated in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of the month. That strain is believed to be some 56% more contagious and perhaps twice as deadly than the existing dominant strain in the United States.
Health experts say the country is continuing to move in the right direction as a whole, with the vaccine effort hopefully ending the pandemic this year. But what had been a rapid national case decline starting in January has slowed significantly over the past few weeks, with the U.S. continuing to average over 50,000 new cases a day, a plateau level Fauci said “concerns me.” Top health officials and President Joe Biden are also advising against expansive reopening measures that states are putting into effect, including some that have decided to lift mask mandates.
“It’s going to be a close call,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, to CNN on Tuesday. “We are vaccinating really well; that’s the good news. These variants are spreading pretty quickly across the country; that’s the bad news.”