How Delta is pushing the U.S. into a new phase of the pandemic

The shape and scope of the damage of a Covid-19 outbreak isn’t just determined by how many people in a given area are protected — it’s also a question of who is protected. While 56.8% of people in the United States 12 and over who are eligible for the shots are fully vaccinated, the rate is nearly 80% for people 65 and older — the population at greatest risk of getting severely ill and dying from Covid-19.

Having so many older people protected will in turn reduce the death rate among those people still contracting the coronavirus. It also explains why younger adults — who have lower vaccination rates — are accounting for a larger portion of people hospitalized now.

In Florida, for example, while people 70 and older accounted for nearly 1 in 2 hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the pre-vaccine era, they now make up just 1 in 4, according to data analyzed by epidemiologist Jason Salemi of the University of South Florida. And with the bulk of hospitalizations among younger adults, “we should absolutely not see as many deaths related to hospitalizations, because fewer of those hospitalized will die,” Salemi said.