The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Speaking during a White House briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said 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 said, are among the unvaccinated.
"There is a message that is crystal clear: this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Walensky said. "We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk."
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients echoed the pandemic is “one that predominantly threatens unvaccinated people.”
Zients said 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.
New cases of the coronavirus have been on the rise in Florida over the past month. The rate of positive tests was 7.8% last week after trending at about 4% positivity in recent weeks.
California is also amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, most of them the highly transmissible delta variant that has proliferated since the state fully reopened its economy on June 15 and did away with capacity limits and social distancing. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people. In Los Angeles County, which has been recording more than 1,000 new cases each day for a week, officials announced Thursday that residents will again be required to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
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More than half of the counties in Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana have low vaccination rates and elevated levels of COVID cases, according to data from the CDC and Johns Hopkins University. Those three states are seeing some of the highest levels of cases per capita in the country over the past seven days amid a surge in spread of the delta variant in southwest Missouri, CNBC reports.
“There will continue to be an increase in cases among unvaccinated Americans and in communities with low vaccination rates, particularly given the spread of the more transmissible delta variant,” Zients said.
But Zients added that there are signs that increased cases are driving more people in those communities to seek vaccination at rates faster than the national average.