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COVID-19 cases increase by 312% over three weeks as hospitals reach capacity

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise rapidly throughout the United States as the country enters its fourth wave of the pandemic.  

On Sunday, America recorded 25,141 new cases of coronavirus with a seven-day rolling average of 79,951, which is the highest average recorded since February 16. 

It also marks a 312 percent increase from the 19,400 average recorded three weeks ago.    

Additionally, 71 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Sunday with a seven-day rolling average of 341, the second day in a row that the 300-threshold has been passed.

The figure is a 45 percent increase from three weeks prior and the largest seen since June 12.

Health officials say deaths have not risen as dramatically because people now are protected by vaccines, but the spread of the Indian 'Delta' variant is causing hospitalizations to spike in several states.

States such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri are reporting that hospitals are reaching capacity with Florida even breaking its previous record for Covid hospitalizations.

However, there are also bright spots. After weeks of lagging COVID-19 vaccinations, the pace is picking up with U.S. recording more than 700,000 shots five days in a row. 

On Sunday, the U.S. recorded 25,141 new cases of coronavirus with a seven-day rolling average of 79,951, a 312% increase from the 19,400 recorded three weeks ago

Additionally, 71 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Sunday with a seven-day rolling average of 341, up 45% from the average of 234 deaths recorded 21 days ago

Hotspots such as Florida, Louisiana and Missouri are not just seeing COVID-19 infections rise but hospitalizations as well, with some centers reaching capacity

It comes as the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations is picking up with U.S. recording more than 700,000 shots administered five days in a row

Florida continues to leads the nation in COVID-19 cases with an average of 27,681 cases per day, data from Johns Hopkins University show.

That is a record figure, surpassing the previous high of 17,991 set on January 5, and represents a 342 percent increase from the 6,492 average cases reported two weeks ago, a DailyMail.com analysis shows.

Hospitalizations also reached a record high with 10,207 hospitalized with COVID-19, according to data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

This shatters the previous record of 10,170 recorded on July 23, 2020.

Meanwhile, hospitals are overflowing. The Mayo Clinic hospital in Jacksonville announced on Sunday it has exceeded its capacity of 304 licensed COVID-19 beds.

It has asked the Agency for Health Care Administration to approve a plan for patients to occupy unlicensed beds until the surge ends, reported First Coast News.  

Meanwhile at UF North in Jacksonville, the number of COVID-19 patients is once again so high that some are occupying in beds in the hallways of the hospital's emergency department  

'We're taking more patients than we normally would take,' Marsha Tittle, a nurse at UF North told the Florida Times-Union. 

'My staff is wonderful. You walk out there, they're going to have smiles on their faces and they're doing a great job. But there's a sense of defeat, like they're just defeated.'    

As of Monday, 58 percent of Floridians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 49 are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Florida is averaging 27,681 cases per day, a 342% increase from the 6,492 average cases reported two weeks ago (left). COVID-19 hospitalizations also reached a record high with 10,207, breaking the previous record of 10,170 set last year (right)

Average cases in Missouri have risen by 36% from 2,141 per day to 2,926 per day in the last two weeks (left). Hospitalizations have also increased in the past 14 days to 1,921, 41% up from 1,357 (right)

In Louisiana, average COVID-19 cases have risen 21% from 2,006 to 2,431 per day (left). Meanwhile, the number of patients hospitalized has risen from 563 to 1,740 in the last two weeks (right)

Missouri continues to be another COVID-19 epicenters with average cases rising by 36 percent from 2,141 per day to 2,926 per day in the last two weeks, according to DailyMail.com's analysis.

Across the state, hospitalizations have risen in the past 14 days to 1,921, 41 percent up from 1,357.

The state's vaccination rate is behind the national average with 49.1 percent of residents having received at least one dose and 41.5 percent fully vaccinated. 

The outbreak has mainly been contained to the southwestern part of the state, where Branson and Springfield are located, and where vaccination rates are lowest, with only about one-third fully vaccinated.

CoxHealth Springfield recorded 187 new coronavirus patients on Sunday, a record high and a startling increased from the 28 patient seen eight weeks ago.

Meanwhile Mercy Springfield ha also reached a record high 147 patients, of whom 93 percent were unvaccinated.

'I can't understand the motivations of people disparaging healthcare providers and diminishing the reality of this pandemic,' CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards wrote on Twitter.

In Louisiana, cases have risen 21 percent from 2,006 to 2,431 per day, Johns Hopkins data show.

Meanwhile, several hospitals say they are running out of ICU beds as the number of patients has risen from 563 to 1,740 in the last two weeks, according to department of health data.  

At least two hospitals - Our Lady of Lourdes and Oschner Lafayette General - have run out of ICU beds, reported KATC ABC 3.

Administrators at Our Lady of Lourdes are converting regular beds outside of the ICU to deal with the surge in patients.

'Part of that reason and why it's such a high percentage of our 70 patients is we're seeing enhanced severity of this illness in these individuals who, many of whom, are otherwise completely healthy,' Dr Henry Kaufman, interim chief medical officer at Our Lady of Lourdes, said at a press conference. 

Dr Amanda Logue, Chief Medical Officer at Ochsner Lafayette General, Oschner Lafayette General told KATC ABC 3 that the hospital currently has 97 COVID-19 patients, up from 10 just four weeks ago.

Amid the spike in cases and hospitalizations, there is some good news: the U.S. is finally starting to see the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations increase.

On Saturday, more than 816,000 shots were administered, marking the fifth day in a row that the country had given out more than 700,000 shots.

What's more, the seven-day rolling average is now above 662,000, which is the highest figure seen since early July.

As of Monday morning, 69.9 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning the nation is close to reaching President Joe Biden's goal of 70 percent, albeit nearly a month after his July 4 deadline. 

In appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said vaccination rates have risen 56 percent across America in the last two weeks.

He told host Jake Tapper that he hopes the threat of the Delta variant has helped convince vaccine hesitant Americans to get the vaccine. 

'This may be a tipping point for those who have been hesitant to say: 'OK, it's time,'' Collins said. 

'I hope that's what's happening. That's what desperately needs to happen if we're going to get this Delta variant put back in its place.' 

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