US passes 35 million COVID-19 cases

The United States has surpassed 35 million recorded COVID-19 cases, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, as the delta variant spurs a new rise in cases.

The country is now averaging about 70,000 cases per day and recorded more than 100,000 on Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

However, the availability of vaccines means that the dynamics are far different than previous waves. Unvaccinated people are by far at the greatest risk, and while vaccinated people can occasionally become sick, the cases are usually mild.

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The death rate is far below where it was during earlier waves, though it has ticked up recently, to about 300 deaths per day. In January, more than 3,500 people were dying per day. 

The worst outbreaks are in areas with low vaccination rates. As the highly transmissible delta variant fuels the new increase, the vaccination rate, which had fallen considerably, is starting to tick back up.

The country is averaging about 660,000 vaccinations per day, up from about 500,000 on July 20, according to Our World in Data. Still, that is far below the peak of more than 3 million in April. 

While the rise in cases has spurred new discussions about mask wearing, experts still say that it is clear the most important response is to get more people vaccinated. 

The states with the highest number of new cases per capita are Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi, according to the Covid Act Now tracking site. All four have relatively low vaccination rates.