COVID-19 surge in the US: The summer of hope ends in gloom WASHINGTON (AP) — The summer that was supposed to mark America’s independence from COVID-19 is instead drawing to a close with the U.S. more firmly under the tyranny of the virus, with deaths per day back up to where they were in March. The delta variant is filling hospitals, sickening alarming numbers of children and driving coronavirus deaths in some places to the highest levels of the entire pandemic. School systems that reopened their classrooms are abruptly switching back to remote learning because of outbreaks. Legal disputes, threats and violence have erupted over mask and vaccine requirements. It wasn't supposed to be this way. More than six months into the U.S. vaccination drive, President Joe Biden held a White House party on July Fourth to celebrate the country’s freedom from the virus, and other political leaders had high hopes for a close-to-normal summer. Then the bottom fell out. The summer wave was fueled by the extra-contagious delta variant combined with stark resistance to vaccinations that formed along political and geographic lines, said Dr. Sten Vermund, of the Yale School of Public Health. “The virus was more efficient in spreading among the unvaccinated so that you blunted the expected benefit of vaccines,” Vermund said.