Daily coronavirus cases are four times higher than they were following Labor Day weekend of last year with the number of daily deaths twice as high as they were this time in 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Since the global health crisis emerged in late 2019, the United States has recorded more than 40 million COVID-19 cases, including just 4 million in the last month alone.
Health officials noted the biggest difference between this year and last is the delta variant. They blamed the 316% increase over last year’s daily infections on the highly contagious COVID-19 mutation as well as a large number of Americans refusing to become vaccinated against the fast-spreading disease.
According to data from Health and Human Services, hospitalization rates are also up 157% compared with Labor Day weekend 2020, leaving medical facilities packed to the brim and their staffs exhausted and overwhelmed.
What’s more, intensive care units across several states are inching closer to full capacity, which could force doctors to make life-and-death decisions.
“We are perilously close,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN. “You’re going to have to make some very tough choices.”
Last year, coronavirus cases spiked across 31 states and the positivity rate surged in 25 of them only two weeks after the Labor Day holiday. The 2020 figures prompted U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky last week to warn unvaccinated Americans against traveling for the holiday weekend this year.
She also emphasized vaccinated people should wear their masks when required and that the high rate of virus transmission meant that it could be risky for them to travel as well.
Nationwide, only 53% of the total population is fully vaccinated, and just 62% of eligible Americans have received their jabs, leaving tens of millions at risk.