The US remains among nations with the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases, driven mostly by a surge in the South, where many states are lagging in getting people vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"This is starting to look really ominous in the South. ... If you look at rates of transmission in Florida and Louisiana, they're actually probably the highest in the world," Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Friday.
Infection rates began to plummet in the US in the spring as vaccines became widely available, while the seven-day moving average of daily confirmed cases climbed in other nations, including India and Brazil, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In the month of August, the US has so far reported more than 1.5 million new cases of Covid-19, more than three times the numbers for Iran and India -- which now hold second and third place, JHU data shows. And the seven-day average has topped more than 135,000 cases, well ahead of other nations.
On a state-by-state comparison, Louisiana has the highest rate of new cases per capita, followed by Florida.
"That's how badly things have gotten out of hand. There is a screaming level of transmission across the southern states right now. And now we're starting to see this happening among younger age groups," Hotez said.
Florida on Friday broke its own record high in Covid-19 cases over the past week, reporting 151,415 new cases -- the most infections recorded during a seven-day period since the pandemic upended lives across the globe.
The surge has been fueled by the more contagious coronavirus Delta variant, overwhelming hospitals across the country.
New hospital admissions for Covid-19 among adults ages 30 to 39 have reached a record rate, according to CDC data.
The data show the rate of new hospitalizations reached 2.52 per 100,000 people on Wednesday among adults in their 30s.
Just a month earlier, on July 11, the rate of new hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19 in that age group was 0.64 per 100,000 people, according to the data.
As the Delta variant drives a surge of Covid-19 cases in Florida, a rapid-response unit will be deployed to administer monoclonal antibody treatments to residents infected with the virus, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.
"This is the most effective treatment that we've yet encountered for people who are infected with Covid-19," DeSantis said. "This, applied early and properly, has the ability to reduce your likelihood of being hospitalized."
Monoclonal antibodies are intensely focused, lab-made versions of convalescent plasma. The antibodies come from people who have recovered from coronavirus. Researchers then take the blood, select the most potent antibodies, and make them into a drug.
Speaking from Jacksonville, DeSantis said beginning at noon Thursday, the rapid response unit will begin delivering monoclonal antibodies in the city.
The process will begin with referrals from the health systems, but the state is looking to move to allowing individuals to make appointments, he said. The intention is to expand the model to other parts of the state, the governor said.
The state will also be deploying strike teams to long-term care facilities as well, DeSantis said, and the state "is going to bring in a lot more Regeneron into Florida." (Regeneron is a company that makes a monoclonal antibody treatment.)