White House outlines grim COVID-19 trends as delta surge worsens

The White House COVID-19 response team on Thursday outlined grim coronavirus trends showing how the delta variant has strengthened its grip on the country, especially among unvaccinated populations. 

Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyNIH director says it's 'possible' omicron will not be last emerging variant CDC director confirms FDA in talks to streamline authorization of omicron-specific vaccine Sunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant MORE, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pointed to the bleak data showing rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide and pleaded for the unvaccinated to get their shots. 

The seven-day numbers for new COVID-19 cases reached about 113,000 new cases per day in a 24 percent increase from the previous week. Hospital admissions rose 31 percent, to an average of 9,700 hospitalizations per day, and fatalities surpassed 450 per day, a 22 percent increase. 

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“We continue to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase across the country,” Walensky said. “And now over 90 percent of counties in the United States are experiencing substantial or high transmission.”

Officials said unvaccinated populations are taking the brunt of the COVID-19 surges, with Walensky saying, “As we’ve been saying by far, those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated.”

Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsWTO faces renewed scrutiny amid omicron threat Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Biden administration to ship 11 million vaccine doses abroad MORE, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, also attributed the increased cases to the delta strain spreading mostly among unvaccinated people. 

“The delta variant continues to drive a rise in cases, with cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates,” he said during the briefing. 

Slightly more than half of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated. But that leaves many Americans without protection, including those younger than 12 years old who are still ineligible for the shot. Out of the eligible population, 58.9 percent are fully vaccinated. 

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Some states are enduring worse surges than others. Florida, in particular, has emerged as an epicenter for the outbreak with Zients saying the Sunshine State recorded more cases in the past week than all 30 states with the lowest case rates combined.

Together, Florida and Texas accounted for almost 40 percent of new hospitalizations across the U.S. last week. Less than half of both states’ total populations are fully vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic.

But an analysis from The Washington Post published on Thursday found two-thirds of Americans in highly vaccinated counties now live in coronavirus hot spots amid the delta strain’s infiltration. 

The delta variant has spread to at least 117 countries and is considered two times more transmissible than the alpha variant, top infectious diseases expert Anthony FauciAnthony FauciMurthy says travel restrictions are 'temporary measures' Fauci calls Ron Johnson's AIDS comment 'preposterous': 'I don't have any clue of what he's talking about' Fauci: US 'hopefully' will lift African countries travel ban in 'reasonable period of time' MORE said during the briefing. 

The prevalence of the delta variant also influenced the CDC’s decision to officially recommend pregnant people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  

“The increased circulation of the highly contagious delta variant, the general low vaccine uptake among pregnant people and the increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19 infection among pregnant people make vaccination for this population more urgent than ever,” Walensky said.