Aug. 7 (UPI) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that 50% of the U.S. population, including more than 60% of adults, is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus while COVID-19 cases rise rapidly in Florida and Texas.
The agency said 165.9 million U.S. residents have received two shots while 193.7 million, or 58.4% have received at least one shot. For adults, those 18 and over, 157.3 million, or 60.9% are now vaccinated and 182.3 million, or 70.6% have received at least one dose.
“Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Thursday, according to USA Today. “And they responded by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.”
New cases have jumped significantly in Florida. According to the state’s health department, Florida recorded 134,505 cases for the week ending July 30 after confirming 11,437 for the last week of May, a more-than-tenfold increase. The new case positivity rate leaped from 3.6% during the last week of May to 18.9% during the last week of July.
Despite the rising numbers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration worked to undermine mask mandates set to local school districts by allowing parents to “opt-out” of such rules to protect students not wearing masks from “COVID-19 harassment.”
“If a school district is going to have a mask requirement, they have to allow for parents to opt-out their student,” said Ben Gibson, vice-chair of Florida’s board of education, according to Politico. “It’s prioritizing parental choice.”
In Texas, the health department on Saturday reported 16,899 new confirmed cases with another 3,082 probable cases, a new high since its last spike in February.
“It’s getting worse by the hour — everybody in Texas is headed to a bad place pretty quickly,” said John Henderson, president of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“I’m not hearing anything from the state. It’s all ‘personal responsibility.’ Well, if everything’s a matter of personal responsibility, why have any laws?”
In North Texas, Hunt Regional Healthcare said Friday it has closed its Commerce Emergency Room and Texas Health closed its North Rockwall Emergency Room because of the surge in coronavirus cases locally.
“We are experiencing a public health crisis and need your help,” the statement from Hunt Regional said. “If you have not been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible. Wear a mask when indoors and avoid non-essential gatherings.”
In one instance illustrating the Texas hospital bed crunch, an 11-month-old Houston-area girl was airlifted from her hospital there to a Temple, Texas, facility some 170 miles away, because no other local pediatric hospital would accept her.
“She needed to be intubated immediately because she was having seizures,” said Patricia Darnauer, the administrator for LBJ Hospital, according to KTRK-TV. “We looked at all five major pediatric hospital groups and none [had beds] available.”