Experts have expressed concern that the Southern U.S. might see a massive COVID-19 surge this summer because of the low vaccination rates, The New York Times reports.

Several states in the South — including Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana — have seen low vaccination rates. In fact, “about half of adults or fewer have received a dose” in those states, according to a New York Times analysis.

  • More over, The New York Times analysis found it would take close to one year for Alabama and Mississippi to reach the 70% benchmark for vaccinations.

What would the surge be like?

Experts explained to The New York Times that the surge wouldn’t be like the surge we saw in 2020.

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  • Rather, “experts believe it won’t be as grave as last summer’s because at least some people are vaccinated and treatments have improved. But memories of last summer, when cases rose quickly after some Southern states rushed to reopen, are still fresh,” per The New York Times.
  • “The surge is not likely to end up tying up hospitals, and causing lots of deaths,” said Dr. Edward Trapido, an epidemiologist and associate dean for research at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health, according to The New York Times. “There are certain populations that are undervaccinated, and that’s where we will expect to see a rise.”

Concern for unvaccinated

Experts similarly told CNN they are concerned unvaccinated individuals may see a surge in COVID-19 cases in the next few weeks, which has delayed the return to normal for everyone else.

  • “You have parts of the country with very low vaccination rates,” CNN medical analyst Leana Wen told CNN. “I really worry about the unvaccinated people in those areas spreading coronavirus to one another.”

So far, 63.5% of the United States has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Joe Biden said he hopes the country will reach 70% of people getting one dose by July 4.