US health officials say the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to rise and now accounts for more than 80 percent of serial COVID-19 cases in the country.
This is a significant increase from the week of July 3, when the variant accounted for about 50 percent of cases of genetically sequenced coronavirus.
Dr. Rochelle Walinsky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during Tuesday’s US Senate hearing.
The delta variant is a mutated coronavirus that spreads more easily than other versions. It was first discovered in India but has now been identified worldwide.
Many of the new outbreaks in the United States have been in parts of the country where COVID-19 vaccines have been delayed, leading political leaders to ramp up pressure on reluctant Americans to get their vaccinations.
The update came after Mississippi’s chief public health official, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said the state was seeing a rapid increase in coronavirus infections, saying in a tweet this week that “the fourth wave is here.”
The Mississippi Department of Health said Monday that 2,326 new cases were confirmed from Friday through Sunday. This is the largest three-day increase reported in the state since February.
Mississippi has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus vaccination in the country.
In Missouri, where a variable delta has caused an increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state’s southwest, health officials have resorted to house-to-house commuting in an effort to encourage vaccination.
The Kansas City Star recently followed suit as health officials knocked on doors in Springfield, handing out brochures.
The newspaper reported that the efforts were not confrontational and officials always took a “no” for an answer, despite concerns raised by Governor Mike Parson and other Republican leaders that communication would be heavy-handed.
There was a tinge of good news Monday: The number of people hospitalized fell slightly in southwest Missouri and across the state, according to data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
After several days of more than 1,000 new confirmed cases, the state reported 826 on Monday, bringing the epidemic total to 545,551. No new deaths were reported, leaving the total number to 9,474.
Arkansas has also been hit hard by the resurgence of the virus. All but two of the state’s 75 counties have significant or high levels of transmission, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— From the Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 11:15 a.m. ET
What is happening in Tokyo
The world should see that Japan can organize a safe Olympics, the Japanese prime minister told sports officials on Tuesday before the Tokyo Olympics.
Tens of thousands of athletes, officials, games staff and the media are arriving in Japan amid a domestic emergency and widespread opposition from the general public.
The events begin on Wednesday – in softball and women’s football – two days before the official opening ceremony of the Olympics, which has already been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The world is facing great difficulties,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told IOC members at a closed-door meeting at a five-star hotel in Tokyo, adding, “We can achieve success in delivering the Games.”
“This fact must be conveyed from Japan to the rest of the world,” Suga said through an interpreter. “We will protect the health and security of the Japanese people.”
He acknowledged that Japan’s path through the pandemic toward the Olympics may “reverse sometimes at times”.
“But the vaccination has started and after a long tunnel, the way out is now in our eyes,” Suga said.
On Monday, the Japanese prime minister’s office said more than 21 percent of Japan’s 126 million population had been vaccinated.
Health experts in Japan have questioned whether many international visitors will be allowed for the Games, which end on August 8. There will be no domestic or foreign fans at the events. The Paralympics will follow in late August.
— From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What is happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 190.9 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins UniversityThe reported global death toll has reached more than four million.
In the Asia Pacific In the region, Muslims across Indonesia celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha for a second year on Tuesday as the country grappled with a devastating new wave of coronavirus cases and the government banned large gatherings and tightened travel restrictions.
Indonesia is now Asia’s hotspot for the COVID-19 virus with the most confirmed daily cases, as infections and deaths have risen over the past three weeks and the outbreak has subsided in India.
Most cases in Indonesia are located on the densely populated island of Java, where more than half of the country’s 270 million people live. Authorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country have banned many crowd-drawing activities that are usually part of Eid al-Adha, the Eid al-Adha that marks the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Authorities allowed prayers at local mosques in low-risk areas, but elsewhere there were no congregations in houses of worship, including the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta, the largest in Southeast Asia.
The Indonesian Ministry of Health reported 34,257 new cases of coronavirus and 1,338 deaths on Monday, making it the deadliest day in the country since the start of the pandemic. Overall, Indonesia has reported more than 2.9 million cases and 74,920 deaths. These numbers are widely believed to be undervalued due to low testing and poor tracking procedures.
In the Middle east, State TV reported, that Iran imposed a one-week lockdown in the capital and a neighboring province as the number of daily cases reached a record level amid a fifth wave of the epidemic.
Worshipers said that restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus during the Hajj season in Saudi Arabia also reduced the risk of deadly crowds marred by the stoning of Satan in past years.
at Africa, South African health officials on Monday reported 7,209 new cases of COVID-19 and 221 additional deaths. On Monday, health workers in the country gave 200,000 doses of vaccine in one day, According to local media A record for South Africa.
at EuropeIn Spain, officials celebrate that half of Spain’s population, or nearly 24 million people, is already fully vaccinated, although they say the sharp increase in infections is sending alarming numbers of patients to hospitals.
In the AmericasThe Brazilian Ministry of Health said on Monday that Brazil recorded 15,271 new cases of coronavirus and 542 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
— From The Associated Press, Reuters, and CBC News, last updated at 9:05 a.m. ET