The delta variant has led to an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths across the country in recent weeks.
However, during a briefing by the White House COVID-19 response team on Thursday, team coordinator Jeff Zients noted that a handful of states — all of them in the South — are contributing the most to the spread of the virus.
Zients noted Thursday that two states — Florida and Texas — have accounted for about a third of all the new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the last week. The two states have also contributed to about a third of all new hospitalizations in the last seven days.
Florida alone recorded more positive tests in the last week than 30 other states combined.
Furthermore, Zients said that seven states — Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi — accounted for about half of the nation's new cases and hospitalizations in the last week, despite representing only about 25% of the country's population.
Health officials have made clear that the current surge of COVID-19 has been driven by those who have not been vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is the only state of the seven listed by Zients that has at least 71.3% of adults at least partially vaccinated, a rate that matches the U.S. rate.
However, Zients did note that vaccinations are currently on the rise in the U.S.
The country is now administering an average of 500,000 doses a day for the first time since mid-June, and vaccinations are surging in some of the states where rates had been lagging.
Zients noted that distribution has tripled in Arkansas in the last week and quadrupled in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Earlier this month, the CDC reported that 99.99% of people vaccinated had avoided a severe or deadly COVID-19 infection.
Also, during Thursday's briefing, the COVID-19 response team also noted that the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC are weighing the approval of a booster shot for those with compromised immune systems. The shots could be approved within the next few days.