Over 80% of U.S. counties are experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 spread, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during a White House briefing. The vast majority of counties thereby meet the threshold for federal health guidance advising fully vaccinated populations to wear masks in public indoor places.
“Across the board we are seeing increases in cases and hospitalizations in all age groups,” Walensky said. “Those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated.”
(Over 80% of U.S. counties are experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 spread. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC))
She noted that the highly transmissible delta variant continues to be the predominant strain circulating in the U.S., which was previously said to account for more than eight in 10 sequenced samples.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said he can “guarantee” the country can suppress the surge largely driven by the delta variant if the U.S. sees sweeping progress on vaccinations and takes immediate mitigation steps like masking and avoiding crowds.
“If we continue to vaccinate and we get that 93 million people who are eligible for vaccinations, who have not been vaccinated, 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,” he said.
The U.S. logged 103,455 new daily infections with a seven-day average of about 89,463 cases per day, translating to a 43% increase over the prior seven-day average. Hospital admissions are also climbing, with 7,673 newly admitted patients and a 41% uptick over the prior seven-day average. Deaths are rising too; the CDC reported 614 new deaths and a nearly 40% increase over the prior seven-day average.
The pace of vaccinations has also increased in recent weeks, and the country saw 864,000 vaccinations over the last day for the highest daily figure of shots in arms since July 3, according to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.