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Delta virus variant helping to drive up COVID-19 cases

“I think people have no clue what’s about to hit us.”

These ominous words aren’t from a Hollywood movie. They are from Dr. James Lawler, a leader of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, regarding the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country. The number of new cases per day has doubled over the past three weeks, driven by the fast-spreading delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings, according to The Associated Press.

Confirmed infections climbed to an average of about 23,600 a day on Monday, up from 11,300 on June 23, according to Johns Hopkins University data. And all but two states — Maine and South Dakota — reported that case numbers have gone up over the past two weeks.

“It is certainly no coincidence that we are looking at exactly the time that we would expect cases to be occurring after the July Fourth weekend,” said Dr. Bill Powderly, co-director of the infectious-disease division at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis.

And, by no coincidence, the five states with the biggest two-week jump in cases per capita all had lower vaccination rates: Missouri, 45.9%; Arkansas, 43%; Nevada, 50.9%; Louisiana, 39.2%; and Utah, 49.5%.

The proof is there — the vaccine is working. It is helping us regain a sense of normalcy, and the states with residents who choose to be stubborn are also the ones who are going to suffer the consequences of another surge.

We ask those who are on the fence please reconsider getting the vaccine, particularly before schools start reconvening and our youngest population — the ones who aren’t able to be vaccinated yet — have to go back and gather in groups.

It’s the only logical way for us to achieve herd immunity and put this nightmare behind us.

But if you don’t want to take it from us, take it from Rochelle P. Walensky, director at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “Much of this suffering can be prevented.”

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