As Md., Va. mark new milestones, latest COVID variant raises concern

First, the good news: Maryland and Virginia celebrated some new COVID-19 milestones on Monday.

In the commonwealth, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that 70% of adults 18 years and older have received at least one vaccine dose. And Maryland has recorded its second day in a row with fewer than 50 new reported cases — and zero deaths.

As of Monday, over 55% of all U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But there is new concern that amid the lifting of health restrictions nationwide, the highly infectious COVID-19 variant, called Delta, could cause a new surge in cases in the U.S. — and derail employers’ and school districts’ plans for the fall — if vaccinations lag.

Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, in particular, show “very substantial upsurges of infections” due to lower vaccination rates.

And Dr. David Agus, a CBS News medical contributor, told WTOP Monday that the Delta variant will spread rampantly in such states.

In addition to fewer vaccinations, another factor aiding the spread is that kids younger than 12 can’t get a shot yet, because COVID vaccines have yet to be approved for use on them. While it has been harder for the virus to be transmitted by children, Agus said, ”everything is out the window” when it comes to the Delta variant.

“What we’re seeing in other countries is that younger individuals are getting sick and transmitting the virus,” Agus told Debra Feinstein and Mark Lewis. “… And they are a conduit for spread with the Delta variant.”

Agus said he hopes vaccine trials on younger kids are completed before the end of the summer so they, too, can get vaccinated.

“It is critical, the more people we vaccinate, the less this will spread and the less mayhem that will cause,” he said.

As he sees it, the nation is letting its guard down. The variant, which originated in India, will quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. over the next three to four weeks, as it has in other countries already.

“And with ease of spread,” Agus said, “I’m worried that the numbers may go back up.”

You can check out Agus’ live hit with Deb and Mark below.

Dr. David Agus with WTOP's Mark Lewis and Debra Feinstein

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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