Osterholm: As long as there are unvaccinated people we will have a "tremendous challenge"

Osterholm said the Delta variant has brought hospitalization numbers back to where they were in January

The Delta variant of COVID is continuing to cause infections and hospitalizations to rise across the country. While vaccinations continue to tick upwards, health experts are warning it’s not happening fast enough to slow the spread of COVID.

Florida, Texas and especially Louisiana continue to see huge numbers of infected patients in hospitals, and it is quickly overwhelming health care systems. In Louisiana, there are now a total of 499,942 confirmed coronavirus cases and 107,286 total "probable" coronavirus cases according to the state’s tracking system.

Dr. Michael Osterholm from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy joined John Hines on WCCO Radio Thursday to talk about the latest numbers and he shares that the numbers we’re seeing now are as bad as they were last winter.

“The case numbers are continuing to climb,” Osterholm says. “We know about the surges that have occurred in the Southern Sunbelt states. The big surge we had last January when everyone thought that it was done, we reported on any given day about 77,000 hospitalizations a day. That's where we're at right now. That's remarkable considering just a month ago we were less than 19,000 hospitalizations. So this has really come up quickly.”

According to Osterholm, Louisiana has the highest rate of infection in the world right now. Higher than any country despite the availability of vaccines. While the Southern states continue to experience the biggest surges, Osterholm is warning that data is pointing to those numbers starting to look similar in other states at well.