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A cluster of states in the Midwest and South has become a new center of Covid-19 outbreaks, as the highly transmissible Delta variant sweeps through poorly vaccinated populations in the United States.
The news marks a potentially serious setback for the Biden administration’s attempts to curb and control the pandemic as the Delta variant – which has wreaked havoc in the UK and elsewhere – begins to spread more widely in America.

It also comes as life in much of the United States has started to return to normal, with many Covid-19 restrictions lifted, and as the vaccination schedule has slowed.

The rates of Covid-19 cases in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi are among the highest in the country, and their vaccination rates among the lowest. The Covid also appears to be gaining ground in the American West.

Despite this, the overall number of new cases of Covid-19 is low. New infections are less than a tenth of the average daily rate at the height of the pandemic in January, although they have doubled in the past two weeks.

“We are not where we were in April 2020,” said Dr. David Dowdy, associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and expert in infectious diseases. Nonetheless, he said, “We have seen that these numbers can increase dramatically and quickly, so we have to be careful but not panic. “

Localized epidemics highlight a growing gap in vaccine uptake between U.S. states, as a complex set of conditions has left Republican-leaning and rural places with lower overall vaccination rates than Democratic-leaning states.

Read more of Jessica Glenza’s report here: Delta variant gains traction in US as outbreaks highlight vaccine divide

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