Are we making progress – or – falling backward in our quest to conquer the pandemic?

Months ago, we heard that a minimum of 70% of Americans needed to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Today, the headlines reflect that 70% of Americans have had at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Yet, the number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing – even among the vaccinated. That was not predicted.

What happened? The short answer is the Delta variant. It is more transmissible than other variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, yet it is not as deadly. I listened to a CDC interview over the weekend.

I cannot remember the person being interviewed, but it appears the Delta variant can find a home in vaccinated people’s noses and throats. As such, vaccinated people can pass the virus on to others – both vaccinated and unvaccinated. Being vaccinated does not mean you cannot get infected with the virus. However, it means that you most likely will avoid the hospital and death if you do catch COVID-19.

Current Stats – USA New coronavirus cases in the United States over the past three days reflect an average of 41K per day; however, that average does not reflect the upward momentum of the new cases per day, which continues to climb. The number of deaths is not increasing at the same rate.

Yes, it takes about two weeks for the death rate to reflect accurately. However, the rate of increase is dramatically lower and averaging around 350 deaths daily (0.4%). Deaths by the states are low, and only four states report COVID-19 deaths in double digits – Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas, and California.

Further Details I live south of downtown Houston, Texas. I pulled up stats on Fort Bend County, where I live, and Harris County (Houston). Fatalities from COVID-19 in Fort Bend County (over 800,000 residents) have averaged around one person daily for several weeks. The same death rate is seen in Harris County (over 4 million residents) – averaging around one death per day.

Hospitalizations It is not easy to track hospitals unless you look specifically at a location. I did some study just before the weekend in the Miami, Florida, area. Yes, hospitalizations are up, but the number of ICU room availability did not seem to be a factor.

However, in the Houston area, the Texas Medical Center keeps very detailed tracking records for COVID-19, and I have used them often in my writings. The Effective Reproduction Number is 1.54, meaning that one infected person can infect 1.54 other people. When the ERN is below 1.0, the rate of infection is not spreading.

The Test Positivity Rate is 12.1%. Again, this concurs with the ERN – the virus is spreading in the local population. It is considered under control when the TPR is below 5%. The daily admissions in the Texas Medical System for the Houston area have averaged between 240 and 265 a day for the past week.

COVID-19 patients occupy 25% of available ICU beds in Phase I (1130 bed capacity). Phase II and Phase III can provide nearly another 900 ICU beds. Currently, ICU status is in Phase II (19% utilized). Therefore, over 1,000 patients are in ICU beds that are not COVID-19.


A year ago, 100% of the unvaccinated people caught the virus. The vaccine program has not changed the level of new infections – nearly all are with unvaccinated people. However, there is a slight uptick in the number of vaccinated people catching the virus. Initially, the statistics showed around 0.1% of vaccinated people could become infected. However, it appears to be higher than that with the Delta variant.

The world around me appears to be nearly normal – with a few people still wearing masks. Most stores have no rigid policy for masks. So people wear them as they believe a mask will help them.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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