Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are surging in the Southern United States with some states seeing record numbers of patients as the country faces a wave of coronavirus infections fueled by the delta variant.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Monday that looking ahead to Tuesday's reported hospitalization numbers, there are "more hospitalizations than at any other point in the pandemic."
Edwards did not give the exact number of hospitalized patients, but said it was more than the official count of 1,984 that health officials announced Monday at noon.
The news follows Florida's announcement Sunday that more than 10,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the state, surpassing Florida's record.
Arkansas reported Monday its biggest one-day spike in coronavirus hospitalizations since the pandemic began, bringing the state's total to 1,220. Arkansas is nearing its high of 1,371 coronavirus patients set in January.
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday that coronavirus cases are surging in areas with low vaccination rates.
He told reporters on a conference call that one in three cases nationwide occurred in Florida and Texas in the past week. According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, new confirmed cases hit nearly 560,000.
The average number of people being vaccinated is also on the rise.
Zients said 3 million Americans had received their first shot in the past seven days, an increase of nearly 70% over the previous week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that 70% of U.S. adults have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, a milestone that President Joe Biden had originally hoped to pass by July 4.
In addition to fueling a demand for vaccines, the surge in new coronavirus cases has led authorities to reinstate mask requirements in hard-hit areas and to introduce vaccine mandates at places of work.
Louisiana announced Monday that beginning Wednesday masks would be required in all indoor locations, including schools and colleges, while eight counties in California's San Francisco Bay Area on Monday reimposed mandatory masking in indoor public places.
The mayor of Denver, Colorado, Michael Hancock, announced Monday the city will mandate all city employees and private sector workers in high-risk settings to be vaccinated against the virus by the end of September.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said state health care workers, along with workers in corrections facilities or assisted living centers, must be vaccinated or face testing twice a week.
In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged businesses to turn away unvaccinated customers. He said it is in businesses' best interests because many customers want to know that the customer next to them is vaccinated.
Biden announced last week that millions of federal workers and contractors must show proof of vaccination or submit to regular COVID-19 tests.
As of Monday night, the U.S. has confirmed 35.1 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and more than 613,000 deaths.
Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.