The overwhelming majority of people who are now dying from COVID are unvaccinated

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For unvaccinated Americans, COVID-19 remains a much greater danger than for those people who are vaccinated. That’s a duality underscored by nearly all coronavirus deaths being deemed “entirely preventable” thanks to vaccine availability.

In a June 22 briefing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky asserted that adult deaths from COVID-19 are entirely avoidable, thanks to vaccines.

Axios noted that “deaths from the virus have dramatically decreased since their peak in early 2021, but the U.S. is still currently reporting an average of more than 200 deaths every day.” The report also warned that the numbers could increase as the delta variant of the virus becomes the dominant strain in the country—it’s on course to do exactly that based on current trends.

The U.S. passed 600,000 COVID-19 deaths earlier in the month, and according to a New York Times reported, nearly all of the deaths are occurring in those who never got the vaccine. The death rate is slowing significantly, largely because more than half of all Americans are protected with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The 114 days it’s taken the U.S. to get from 500,000 to 600,000 COVID-19 deaths compares favorably to the 34 days it took to get from 400,000 to 500,000 and the 36 days before that to jump from 300,000 to 400,000.

Concern from health officials doesn’t just extend to how the U.S. is handling COVID vaccinations and about unvaccinated people; it’s a global worry.

“Until we have this under control across the world, it could come back and thwart all the progress we’ve made so far,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, an organization representing state health agencies. “I’m worried about the people who are not taking advantage of these vaccines. They’re the ones who are going to bear the brunt of the consequences.”

A June 24 CNN report noted that younger Americans and Black Americans are increasingly at risk from coronavirus-related deaths. In May, 3% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were adults under 40, more than double what the rate has been since the pandemic began.

That report noted that health officials will try to continue to get through to those who are vaccine hesitant. There are cautionary tales emerging in this phase of the pandemic, including Missouri, which is becoming synonymous with misery.

“Missouri is becoming a cautionary tale for the rest of the country: It is seeing an alarming rise in cases because of a combination of the fast-spreading delta variant and stubborn resistance among many people to getting vaccinated,” an Associated Press article noted. “Intensive care beds are filling up with surprisingly young, unvaccinated patients, and staff members are getting burned out fighting a battle that was supposed to be in its final throes.”

“If people elsewhere in the country are looking to us and saying, ‘No thanks’ and they are getting vaccinated, that is good,” said Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, which has seen a significant rise in COVID-19 patients as the delta variant has continued to spread. “We will be the canary.”

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Sources: Axios, New York Times, CNN, Associated Press

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