WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Speaking during a White House briefing Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says cases in the U.S. are up about 70% over the last week, hospital admissions are up 36% and deaths rose by 26%. Nearly all hospital admissions and deaths, she says, are among the unvaccinated.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients echoed the pandemic is “one that predominantly threatens unvaccinated people.”
He says the Biden administration expects cases to increase in the weeks ahead because of spread in communities with low vaccination rates. Four states accounted for 40% of new cases last week, with one in five coming from Florida.
The Delta variant, which is significantly more contagious than the original variant of COVID-19, has been detected around 100 countries globally and is now the dominant variant worldwide, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said.
“We are dealing with a formidable variant” of COVID-19, Fauci said during the briefing.
Walensky urged unvaccinated Americans to get COVID-19 shots, and said Pfizer Inc’s and Moderna Inc’s vaccines have proven to be especially effective against the Delta variant.
“Over 97% of people who are entering the hospital right now are unvaccinated,” Walensky said.
She said people should get the second dose of vaccine even if they have passed the recommended window of time for receiving it.
The task force also stressed the importance of getting fully vaccinated and combating misinformation as key components to get case numbers down again.
This comes just days after U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy raised the alarm over a growing wave of misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines.
In his first advisory as the nation’s top doctor under President Joe Biden, Murthy called on tech companies to tweak their algorithms to further demote false information and share more data with researchers and the government to help teachers, healthcare workers and the media fight misinformation.
Los Angeles County announced Thursday it will reinstate an indoor mask mandate to combat the surge in coronavirus cases. Chicago recently revived its COVID-19 travel restrictions for states seeing significant case spikes.
About 152.8 million people, or 59.2 % of U.S. adults, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data, with 175.4 million people, or 67.9% million adult Americans, having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report
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