The United States reached on Monday the rate of 70% of adults having received at least one dose of anti-Covid vaccine, a target initially set on July 4 by Joe Biden. The slowdown in the vaccination campaign, particularly in the traditionally conservative regions of the South and Midwest, as well as among the youngest, impoverished, and ethnic minority populations, has prevented the country from achieving this goal.

The United States reached the rate of 70% of adults on Monday who received at least one dose of the anti-Covid vaccine, almost a month after the target date set by President Biden, when hospitalizations reached levels comparable to those of the wave of last summer.

Data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main public health agency in the United States, also shows that 60.6% of adults and 49.7% of the total population are now fully immunized.

"One in three" in Florida or Texas

Joe Biden initially posted the goal of reaching the figure of 70% on July 4, US National Day. But the slowdown in the vaccination campaign, especially in the traditionally conservative regions of the South and Midwest, as well as among the youngest, impoverished, and ethnic minority populations, has kept the country from achieving that goal. This delay, combined with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, has skyrocketed the average number of daily cases, which now exceeds 70,000 and is growing rapidly.

Every day, hospitals across the country admit an average of 6,200 Covid-19 patients per day, and more than 300 people die from the disease.

"These cases are concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates," Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, told reporters.

"One in three cases nationwide was detected in Florida and Texas last week," he said.

Vaccines still effective

The United States has, however, observed a rebound in the vaccination rate in recent weeks, especially in these regions most affected by the recent wave of Covid-19. The eight most affected states saw an increase in their daily vaccinations of 171%, compared to the rate three weeks earlier, explained Jeff Zients. Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are particularly concerned.

And the private sector has also started to push in this direction: Disney and Walmart, two of the largest private employers in the United States, have announced to encourage or make compulsory the vaccine for their employees. Officials are not left out: Joe Biden took a series of measures Thursday to boost vaccination in the United States, including the requirement for millions of federal employees either to be vaccinated or to wear the mask in continuous and regular testing.

Even though the Delta variant poses a threat, vaccines still prevent most who receive them from developing a severe form of Covid-19.

According to health authorities, vaccinated people are 8 times less likely to get sick, and 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or die.

Return of the mask

In Tennessee, 97% of hospitalizations and 98% of Covid-19-related deaths in July were unvaccinated people. Contamination of vaccinated people remains infrequent, but preliminary research suggests that when it does occur, the risk of transmission is higher with the Delta variant than with previous variants. Taking this data into account, the CDC has reinstated its recommendation for wearing masks indoors in high-risk areas, even for people who have been vaccinated.

On Monday, eight counties in the San Francisco Bay area made masks mandatory again, as did Louisiana.

"It is clear that the current restrictions alone have not worked," said John Bel Edwards, Democratic Governor of Louisiana, saying he was responding to demands from health professionals.

Federal health officials are also debating the possibility of a third dose for certain groups, such as the immunocompromised, following a similar decision taken by Israel.