CDC Director Sees 'Pandemic of the Unvaccinated' as Covid Hospitalizations, Deaths Surge

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky’s opening remarks at Friday’s Covid-19 press briefing struck a sobering tone. With cases, hospitalizations and death rates on the rise, Walensky said the data is sending a “clear message.”

“There is a clear message that is coming through,” the director said. “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

That conclusion came after Walensky gave an overview of the CDC’s most recent data. “After weeks of declines,” Walensky said. “The seven-day average of daily deaths has increased by 26 percent to 211 per day.”

The CDC reported more than 33,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday — an increase in the seven-day average of nearly 70 percent. And over the same time period, the average number of hospital admissions also rose by 36 percent compared to the previous week. Most of those cases are occurring in areas with low vaccination rates.

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“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk, and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” Walensky said.

Walensky stressed the importance of being fully vaccinated to protect against the Delta variant that is quickly becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. Two of the vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require two shots to reach a high level of immunity against the known strains of the virus. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also highly effective against the virus and variants but requires only one dose.

“Do it for yourself, your family, and for your community. And please do it to protect your young children who right now can’t get vaccinated themselves,” Walensky said.

To promote vaccinations, the federal government is coordinating with health care providers, employers and educators in local communities. But they face an uphill battle as misinformation about the virus and vaccines spreads on social media platforms, leading Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to declare on Thursday that the spread of health misinformation is an “urgent threat.”

“This vaccination campaign is, in part, driven by trusted relationships,” Murthy said at Friday’s briefing. “So if you’ve got people in your life who trust you, who look to you for advice, then you have the power to help get them accurate information and help get them vaccinated and protected from Covid-19.”

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