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Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations rise, particularly in unvaccinated red states

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: COVID testing
Edif Madrid, right, and Rosa Guillen wait in a line for COVID-19 testing at a mobile testing site in New Orleans, on July 8, 2020.Gerald Herbert / AP file

WASHINGTON — Before the July 4th holiday, we told you about the country’s red-vs.-blue divide when it comes to Americans receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.

And now we’re seeing an uptick in U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations — coming primarily from red states, where vaccination rates are well below the national average.

“Arkansas has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with less than 35 percent of adults having been fully vaccinated. Now, the state's low vaccine uptake has crashed headlong into the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, leaving some hospital systems once again teetering on the brink of collapse more than a year into the pandemic,” NBC News reported last week.

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The states that have seen the greatest growth in new Covid-19 cases over the past 14 days, per the New York Times: Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas and Louisiana.

The states that have seen the greatest growth in hospitalizations over the last two weeks: Alaska, Nevada, Nebraska, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Donald Trump won all of those states in 2020 with just one exception — Nevada.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

33,981,797: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials.

610,320: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News.

334,151,648: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC.

48 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

58.8 percent: The share of all American adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

70 percent: The percentage of CPAC straw poll voters who said they backed former President Donald Trump for the 2024 nomination, if he runs.

More than 50 miles: How high Richard Branson flew in the Virgin Galactic rocket that launched Sunday.

Tweet of the day

Texas advances new voting measures

With President Biden set to deliver a speech tomorrow on voting rights, Texas advanced its new voting legislation on Sunday, NBC’s Jane Timm writes.

“House Bill 3 cleared committee along party lines early Sunday morning after approximately 24 hours of testimony and debate over the bill, according to Democratic lawmakers. Senate Bill 1 was similarly passed out of committee Sunday afternoon. The legislation, taken up during a special session of the Texas State Legislature, drew hundreds of people to the state Capitol Saturday, with some waiting hours only to testify in the middle of the night.”

Texas Democrats blocked earlier legislation in May after a late-night walkout.

The new legislation “would require voters to provide identification for mail voting and would ban drive-thru and overnight options for early voting. Harris County, a heavily minority and liberal area of the state that is home to Houston, embraced those expanded early voting options during the 2020 general election. The bills would also add criminal penalties for voting law violations and empower partisan poll watchers,” Timm adds.

But two provisions that Democrats had earlier decried were removed, per the New York Times: “a limitation on Sunday voting, and a proposal that would have made it easier to overturn an election.”

Biden to give speech on reducing gun crimes

At 1:15 p.m. ET from the White House, President Biden – joined by Attorney General Merrick Garland and other law enforcement officials – will deliver remarks on his administration’s strategy to reduce gun crimes.

Also joining Biden: Eric Adams, who just won New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary.

Upcoming political events we’re watching

Here’s what’s on our political calendar over the next few weeks:

  • Friday, July 16: Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and Kristi Noem all speak in Iowa at a Family Leader event.
  • Monday, July 26: Pompeo speaks at the Reagan Presidential Foundation’s speaker series.
  • Tuesday, July 27: Runoff in TX-6 special election between Susan Wright (whose husband passed away creating this vacancy) and state Rep. Jake Ellzey.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s where the Biden agenda stands in Congress.

Axios is reporting that the price tag for the opening salvo of the “soft” infrastructure reconciliation bill will be about $3.5 trillion.

The commander of U.S., NATO forces in Afghanistan is stepping down as America winds down its footprint in Afghanistan.

During a Sunday interview, Trump repeatedly praised the Jan. 6 protestors, called them peaceful and said his supporters were being held to a “double standard.”

Trump’s lawyers may be penalized for filing a lawsuit in Michigan a judge called just “speculation and conjecture.”