The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has said that new COVID-19 infections in the Americas are nearly double the rate they were at the same time last year.

This was made known at the weekly virtual news briefing on Wednesday.

The United States alone has a seven-day average of more than 153,000 new COVID cases a day, a 4.9 percent increase from a week ago and a 123.6 percent increase from the infection rate at the same time last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

The PAHO Director, Carissa Etienne, said that only 28 percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated so far and attributed the low vaccination rate to limited vaccine supplies.

However, Canada, Chile and Uruguay have fully vaccinated over two-thirds of their population despite that one-fourth of the countries in the region are still yet to vaccinate 20 percent of their populations.

The Director expressed her displeasure over the low rates of vaccinations in these countries.

According to the Director, Guatemala and Nicaragua, have not reached the 10 percent mark in vaccinations, while less than 1 percent of Haiti’s population is vaccinated.

Furthermore, she stated that over the last week, nearly 1.5 million new COVID-19 infections were reported in the Americas with over 22,000 deaths.

Discussing the issue of maternal health, she mentioned that more than 270,000 pregnant women have been infected with the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic, with over 2,600 dead.

She announced that in Mexico and Colombia, the leading cause of deaths among pregnant women is Covid-19. “Most countries in our region have already reported more cases and deaths among pregnant women this year than in all of 2020,” Etienne said, recommending that pregnant women in their second and third trimester, as well as those who are breastfeeding, get vaccinated for COVID-19.

In the United States, however, cases have been on the rise as at least one state has moved to ration healthcare.

The state of Idaho currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US, with only 39.7 percent of people fully vaccinated and has moved to crisis standards of care on Tuesday, permitting some hospitals to limit healthcare as they struggle with a onslaught of coronavirus patients.

Under the stated guidelines, patients who are considered in most need of care are put on the priority lists for scarce resources, while others with serious but not life-threatening medical problems will face delays in receiving care until resources are available.