Just 18 states and Washington, D.C. surpassed President Biden’s goal of partially or fully vaccinating at least 70% of their residents against Covid-19 by the July 4 holiday, as many in the South, Midwest and East lagged far behind in a rollout divided starkly along party lines.
Among the minority of states that did reach Biden’s goal, Vermont, Hawaii and Massachusetts boasted the highest vaccination rates, with over 80% of all adult residents at least partially inoculated, according to a tracker run by The New York Times.
On the other end of the spectrum, three states—Mississippi, Louisiana and Wyoming—are yet to crack a 50% vaccination rate.
At 46.3%, Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, has the lowest partial vaccination rate.
Marking little progress since mid-June, about a third of U.S. states have not yet surpassed a 60% vaccination rate: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Alaska.
Meanwhile, seven states are hovering just above the 50% vaccination threshold: Alabama (50.2%), Tennessee (52%), West Virginia (52.0%), Idaho (52.8%), Arkansas (52.8%), Georgia (54.4%) and South Carolina (54.6%).
All 18 states that surpassed Biden’s goal voted for him in the 2020 election: Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Washington, New Hampshire, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Delaware and Minnesota. A reflection of the political divide of the vaccine rollout, the states with the lowest inoculation rates are overwhelmingly red, with just three not won by former President Donald Trump in the last election.
67%. That’s how many Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine nationally, falling slightly short of Biden’s goal that the country also reach a 70% inoculation rate.
Public health officials have been emphasizing the urgency of vaccinations due to the accelerating threat of the delta variant. This mutant strain of the virus is between 40% to 60% more transmissible than the dominant Alpha strain in the U.S. and is doubling its prevalence in the country every two weeks. While the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are proving effective at preventing symptomatic disease, top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned of the variant’s potential to wreak havoc in undervaccinated areas.
“When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among under-vaccinated regions—be they states, cities or counties—you’re going to see these individual types of blips,” Fauci told CNN this week. “It’s almost like it’s going to be two Americas.”
What To Watch For
The Biden administration announced this week it will be deploying rapid response teams across the U.S. to the hot spots where the delta strain is flourishing. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the CDC has identified about 1,000 counties—primarily based in the South, East and Midwest—that are causing particular concern because they have vaccination rates of 30% or less.