Southern States at the Center of Rising COVID-19 Infections, Hospitalizations
By: Alyssa Wilson
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending vaccinated people continue wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the Delta variant of COVID-19 is surging, and many of those places are in Southern states.
Unvaccinated people account for a majority of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. In Tennessee’s Tipton County, only one in four residents is vaccinated against COVID-19.
Data compiled by the USA TODAY Network revealed that one quarter or less of residents are fully vaccinated in 120 counties across nine southern states. Vaccination rates are specifically low in Arkansas, in counties that share a border with Texas, throughout southeastern Georgia and along the southwest coast of Louisiana, the Tennessean reported.
Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama said the blame belongs to those who are not vaccinated. “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,” she said. “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”
The least vaccinated communities are typically in more rural counties that are deemed conservative. Despite expanded access to vaccines, some have let politics dissuade them from getting vaccinated.
The ten states with the lowest partial vaccination rates in the United States include Mississippi, Idaho, Louisiana, Wyoming, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, Georgia, Arkansas and West Virginia.
Many Southern states have implemented changes to help combat the further spread of the virus. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued an executive order requiring masks to be worn in all public places while indoors. In Florida, some mayors are going against Republican Governor Ron DeSantis by implementing mask and vaccine mandates. In Miami-Dade, masks will again be required indoors.
In Orange County, the home of Walt Disney World, Mayor Jerry Demings requires all county employees to be vaccinated by September. Face coverings will be required for all guests at Disney World when indoors and on Disney transportation services. “We want to keep our county and theme parks open for business,” Demings said. “By instituting these measures, we want everyone to know, in Orange County, Florida, we take the coronavirus seriously.”