Biden administration sees 'significant' rise in vaccinations as cases surge

Top White House officials highlighted a significant rise in vaccination rates on Thursday as the U.S. endures surging COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, especially in Florida and Texas.  

The national vaccination rate reached its highest level since early last month with 864,000 doses administered, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsWhite House details plans for vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing — NIH study finds mix-and-match boosters effective More than one-third of eligible seniors have received boosters, White House says MORE told reporters. About 585,000 of those doses were the patients' first shots, suggesting more unvaccinated people are getting the jab.

Zients stated that the vaccination rates in Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi have hit levels not seen since April. 

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“Importantly, we're seeing the most significant increases in the states with the highest case rates,” Zients said. “We've more than doubled the average number of people newly vaccinated each day over the past three weeks in the states with the highest case rates.”

The rise in vaccinations comes as the country struggles with COVID-19 — almost 83 percent of counties have “substantial” or “high” viral transmission. 

Seven states with some of the lowest vaccination rates account for about half of new cases and hospitalizations this week, even though they make up less than a quarter of the population, Zients said. 

Those states include Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. 

Florida and Texas make up one-third of the U.S.’s new cases and more than one-third of the country’s new hospitalizations over the past week. 

The administration's COVID-19 surge response teams are coordinating with 16 states to combat the highly transmissible delta strain with more testing and vaccinations. 

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Still, federal health officials concentrated on the growing vaccination rates amid the wave of delta cases. 

“Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected, and they’re responding by doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated,” Zients said.

White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Americans simply don't want the costs of Biden's Build Back Better bill Biden approval at 50 percent in CNN poll MORE also highlighted the increased inoculation rate in a tweet simply saying, “Vaccinations are rising.”

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Webb: Pretzel logic  More than 40 Texas hospitals face ICU bed shortages MORE, President BidenJoe BidenBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Biden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE’s chief medical adviser, noted during the briefing that vaccinations are key for the long-term goal of ending the pandemic. But he added that in the immediate term, mitigation measures like masks are the way to go.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidance last week for fully vaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor spaces if they live in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission.

“If we do that in the immediate, intermediate and long term, and do the mitigation right now, we will turn the delta surge around,” Fauci said. “I will guarantee you that that will happen if we do what I just outlined.”