Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus now accounts for 83% of all sequenced cases in the US.
“This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% for the week of July 3,” Walensky said in a Senate committee hearing. Health experts have said the Delta variant is more transmissible than any other identified variant so far.
Walensky also said Covid fatalities had risen by nearly 48% over the past week to an average of 239 a day.
“Each death is tragic and even more heartbreaking when we know that the majority of these deaths could be prevented with a simple, safe available vaccine,” she said.
A cluster of midwestern and southern states have emerged as the new hotspots for Covid-19.
With less than half of the US population fully vaccinated, infection rates in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are among the highest. With vaccination rates in these states among the lowest.
Alabama ranks lowest in vaccination rates, with only 42.4% of its adult population fully vaccinated. Vermont has the highest fully vaccinated adult population, at 77.3%.
In the last two weeks, the rate of infection across the US has increased by 198%. States that had some of the highest increases in that period include Oklahoma, at 387%, and Louisiana and Mississippi at 376% and 308%.
Vaccines And Masks Are Effective Against The Variant
The most recent data from Israel evaluating the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against the Delta variant found the vaccine to be 64% protective against infection. And that the vaccine is 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.
Other studies indicate that the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are also effective against the Delta variant.
In addition to protecting children from infection, many experts and officials have stressed the importance of getting them safely back to school.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidance for schools. The guide supports in-person learning and recommends universal masking in schools for everyone over the age of 2.
The guidance differs some from the CDC recommendations. It advises masks to be worn indoors in schools by all individuals who are not fully vaccinated.
But Fauci said the CDC leaves flexibility for localities to make judgment calls based on their situation.
Published by HOLR Magazine