Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued a warning Thursday, effectively blaming unvaccinated individuals for the rapid spread of the delta variant but admitting that officials expected it to become the dominant strain in the U.S. She also suggested the U.S. turning the corner on the pandemic is contingent upon everyone doing their “part” and getting vaccinated, regardless of their reservations.
Speaking virtually at the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s Thursday briefing, Walensky spoke about the current Chinese coronavirus numbers in the U.S., noting the 7-day average of cases has increased 11 percent from the prior 7-day average. Hospitalizations are also up seven percent.
“These numbers and what we are seeing across the country reveal two truths about the current state of the pandemic,” she said, touting the “successes of our vaccination program over the last 8 months” and noting numbers are “far lower” than the peaks experienced in January.
“And yet on the other hand, we’re starting to see some new and concerning trends. Simply put, in areas of low vaccination coverage, cases and hospitalizations are up,” she said, taking aim at camps and community events where “proper hard-learned prevention strategies are not enforced and the virus is readily able to thrive.”
The delta variant, she continued, is spreading “rapidly,” explaining it is now estimated to be most the prevalent strain, representing over 50 percent of sequenced samples.
In other areas, such as the Midwest, the percentage is even higher, she added, although Walensky noted that officials expected the delta variant to become the dominant strain in the U.S. Nevertheless, she continued to suggest it is a bigger issue in areas with low vaccination rates.
“Low vaccination rates in these counties coupled with high case rates and lax mitigation policies that do not protect those who are unvaccinated from the disease will certainly and sadly lead to more unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations, and potentially death,” she warned, citing preliminary data from several states suggesting 99.5 percent of deaths from the virus were in unvaccinated people.
“Those deaths were preventable with a simple, safe shot,” she said, failing to note the rising concerns over the development of heart inflammation conditions in younger people receiving the mRNA vaccinations.
Nonetheless, Walensky identified vaccination as the administration’s “leading public health strategy” and suggested the pandemic will not end until everyone jumps on board and gets the jab.
“Turning the corner on this pandemic, getting back to normal, and stopping the delta variant requires all of us to do our part and to get vaccinated,” she said:
Tune in now for this morning’s COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Fauci, Dr. Nunez-Smith, Dr. Walensky, and Jeff Zients. https://t.co/BVuiVaNJit
— White House COVID-19 Response Team (@WHCOVIDResponse) July 8, 2021
On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra doubled down on President Biden’s pitch to go “community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and often times door by door — literally knocking on doors to get help to the remaining people” get vaccinated.
Becerra told CNN it is “absolutely the government’s business” to know who has been vaccinated and who has not.
“It is taxpayers’ business, if we have to continue to spend money to try to keep people from contracting Covid and helping reopen the economy,” he said, adding, “knocking on a door has never been against the law.”
Nearly half of unvaccinated individuals cite a general lack of trust in coronavirus vaccine development and concern over safety as the primary reasons they have not received the jab, although others have cited a general mistrust in drug companies and the government itself.