In the U.S. new COVID-19 cases are concentrated in areas with low vaccination rates

CLAIM
The non-vaccinated don’t get tested, so the increase in COVID-19 cases is made up or due to the vaccinated
DETAILS
Inaccurate: Epidemiological data in the U.S. shows that unvaccinated people are getting tested for COVID-19 and new COVID-19 cases are concentrated in states with low vaccination rates. The majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated individuals.
KEY TAKE AWAY
In July 2021, the U.S. saw increases in COVID-19 cases concentrated in communities with low vaccination rates. Nearly 40% of new COVID-19 cases occurred in Florida, Missouri and Texas, three states with low vaccination rates. Furthermore, the majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in unvaccinated individuals.

FULL CLAIM: “Just worth remembering that the non-vaccinated and people who don’t wear masks, don’t get tested. So the increase in cases is either made up, or is from the vaccinated.”

REVIEW 


After reaching a peak of 300,777 new reported COVID-19 cases on 8 January 2021, the U.S. went through a months-long decline in new cases. Recently, however, this trend has reversed, with the country seeing an increase in the number of new reported cases. On 21 July 2021, the country had a daily average of 38,025 new COVID-19 cases, representing a 195% increase compared to two weeks ago according to a New York Times database.

For Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this represents “a new phase of the pandemic”. Behind this new phase is the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, with an estimated 83% of new cases in the U.S. due to this highly infectious variant.

A Facebook page called Deplorables published a post on 19 July 2021 claiming that the increase in COVID-19 cases “is either made up, or is from the vaccinated”, because “the non-vaccinated and people who don’t wear masks, don’t get tested”. As we’ll show below, new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are concentrated in states with low vaccination rates and the majority of hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated.

COVID-19 testing has increased across the U.S.; case increases are occurring mainly in areas with low vaccine coverage and primarily among the unvaccinated

Given the spread of the Delta variant in the U.S., it’s not surprising that COVID-19 testing is increasing in the majority of U.S. states. According to the Johns Hopkins University Testing Trends Tool, the number of daily tests per 100,000 people on 21 July 2021 had increased in 33 of the 50 U.S. states compared to last week. In the past week, for instance, Alabama, which ranks last for COVID-19 vaccination rates (only a third of the state’s population is vaccinated), conducted 22,504 tests. Of these, 42.89% were positive for COVID-19.

While there is no published data on how many of positive tests in the U.S. occurred in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, from recent White House and CDC press briefings and statements, it’s clear that new COVID-19 cases are primarily occurring in areas with low vaccination rates and that the majority of hospitalizations and deaths are happening in the unvaccinated.

In a press briefing on 22 July 2021, White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients revealed that “case increases are concentrated in communities with low vaccination rates”. According to CDC data from 22 July 2021, in the last seven days three states with lower vaccination rates–Florida (49.38% fully vaccinated), Missouri (40.71% fully vaccinated) and Texas (44.24% fully vaccinated)–accounted for 36.5% of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Florida’s rate of vaccination is close to the U.S. national average of 48.8%, while both Missouri and Texas fall below the country’s average. “And within communities, these cases are primarily among unvaccinated people,” Zients said.

For instance, an analysis done by The Washington Post found that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily in Missouri was 31 per 100,000 people. However, when vaccinated individuals are removed from the population, the number jumps to 52 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people; that case rate is equivalent to Missouri’s overall case rate at the state’s COVID-19 peak in mid-January 2021.

This trend is not exclusive to the U.S. In the last five weeks in Spain, where little over 50% of the population is fully vaccinated, 83.1% of new COVID-19 cases were in the unvaccinated and 11.4% in people who had only received one dose.

The majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now occur among the unvaccinated

While answering questions from journalists at a press briefing on 16 July 2021, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that “over 97 percent of people who are entering the hospital right now are unvaccinated”. As a previous Health Feedback review showed, since early July 2021, the majority of both COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have occurred in the unvaccinated.

For instance, since 1 April 2021 unvaccinated people represented 96.2 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Alabama according to the state’s Department of Public Health. Of the 529 COVID-19 deaths in Alabama during that period, only 20 occurred in vaccinated individuals. As Walensky warned on 16 July 2021: “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

Conclusion

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are concentrated among unvaccinated individuals. COVID-19 tests are needed to confirm the COVID-19 diagnosis, which means unvaccinated individuals are getting tested, contrary to the inaccurate claim in the post by the Facebook group Deplorables.

UPDATE (10 August 2021):

Following publication of this review, a sentence was adding to further clarify how the vaccination rates in Florida, Missouri and Texas compare to the U.S. average.

 

Published on: 25 Jul 2021 | Editor:

Science Feedback is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to science education. Our reviews are crowdsourced directly from a community of scientists with relevant expertise. We strive to explain whether and why information is or is not consistent with the science and to help readers know which news to trust.
Please get in touch if you have any comment or think there is an important claim or article that would need to be reviewed.

ifcn-fact-checkers-code-of-principles-signatory