July 8, 2021 -- The Delta coronavirus strain, now the dominant variant of COVID-19 in the United States, is surging in areas of the country with low vaccination rates, the CDC said Thursday.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, said Delta represents a threat to the entire country.
“We are starting to see some new and concerning trends,” she said during a White House news briefing. “Simply put, in areas of low vaccination coverage, cases and hospitalizations are up.”
In areas of the Midwest and some Mountain States, she said the variant accounts for 80% of cases.
Walensky, who has said 99.5% of people killed by COVID-19 in the last 6 months were unvaccinated, noted that although the Delta variant was expected to spread, the “rapid rise is troubling.”
National numbers reflect this rise. There was an 11% increase in cases this week from the prior 7-day average.
There has also been a spike in cases linked to camping and community events where prevention strategies "are not enforced,” she said.
Of the 173 counties with the highest case rates, 93% have less than 40% of residents vaccinated, Walensky reported.
“These counties are where more than 9 million Americans live and work and are the locations in the country where we’re seeing increased hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated individuals,” she said.
Walensky and Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to the president, continue to stress the importance of vaccination.
Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have been found to be effective against Delta. Fauci has said it is safe to assume the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also effective, because it was developed using the same platform as AstraZeneca’s shot.
“Widespread vaccination is what will truly turn the corner on this pandemic,” Walensky said. “Please know, if you are not vaccinated, you remain susceptible.”