COVID-19 cases have jumped by 10% in the past week nationwide as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads like wildfire, especially where vaccination rates are low, officials said Thursday.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said areas with low vaccination rates are quickly turning into hot spots even as the overall national picture remains very hopeful.
“Communities where people remain unvaccinated remain communities that are vulnerable,” Walensky said.
The delta variant, which was first identified in India, is now responsible for 25% of all new coronavirus cases in the U.S. Walensky predicted it would become the dominant strain nationally within the next several weeks at the longest.
The overall number of cases remains manageable with the seven-day average of new cases sitting around 13,000.
But that is significantly higher than a week ago as several states experience mini-outbreaks. Among the emerging hot spots are Missouri, Nevada, Arkansas, Utah and Wyoming, mostly states where conservative vaccine resistance runs strong.
Public health officials are worried that politically motivated objections to vaccination are leading to swaths of the nation becoming much more susceptible to a new surge of the pandemic, even as most of the country is safer than ever.
Hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low, probably because many of the older people who are most vulnerable to serious cases of coronavirus have already been vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci rejected the idea that President Joe Biden is sending a mixed message by celebrating the Fourth of July and authorizing public events even as the number jump in some parts of the nation.
“The country as a whole has done very well,” he said. “We are celebrating as a country at the same time as we recognize that we’re in a serious situation for those who have not been vaccinated.”