U.S. In ‘Another Pivotal Moment’ As Delta Variant Spreads Through Unvaccinated Communities

The “Pandemic of the Unvaccinated” is only getting worse.

The United States is “at another pivotal moment in this pandemic” as rising Covid-19 cases show no signs of abating, driven by the Delta variant, and some hospitals are filling up, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, government officials warned on Thursday. The US government did not change its guidance on mask-wearing, despite debates going on in the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about whether those who have been vaccinated should once again be officially advised to wear masks indoors to prevent the spread. Officials are becoming concerned as new cases have continued to rise fast in the last two weeks and vaccination rates are stuck stubbornly just below President Joe Biden’s July 4th goal of 70% of American adults having had at least one shot.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said that the Delta variant of coronavirus “is now spreading with incredible efficiency” in the US and that, compared with the original coronavirus strain that broke out in the US in early 2020, this variant is “more aggressive”.

“It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of and that I have seen in my 20-year career,” Dr. Walensky said at a White House briefing on Thursday, noting that the US is “not out of the woods”. The US is far from the dire situation before the vaccines were widely available and when repeated surges of infections in 2020 drove the US death toll in the pandemic above 600,000, the highest in the world. But Dr. Walensky warned: “We are at another pivotal moment in this pandemic, with cases rising again and some hospitals reaching their capacity in some areas.”

The Delta variant now accounts for more than 83% of new coronavirus cases in the US. And Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the president, said there are some areas of the country where Delta accounts for more than 90% of new infections.

On Thursday, when Walensky was asked if official mask guidance had changed she said it had not. “Fully vaccinated people are protected from severe illness,” she said but added that in areas with high numbers of cases, low vaccination rates and where the Delta variant is rising “you should be wearing a mask if you are unvaccinated. If you are vaccinated you get exceptional protection from the vaccine but you have the opportunity to make the personal choice to add extra layers of protection if you so choose.”

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