The US is not out of the woods yet as COVID-19 cases rise in all 50 states, fueled by the highly transmittable Delta variant, the CDC chief warned Thursday, again calling on unvaccinated people – who now make up the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths – to get their shots.
"It's one of the most contagious respiratory viruses that we know and that I've seen in my 20-year career," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a briefing at the White House on Thursday and described the current state of affairs as "another crucial moment". in the pandemic.
The CDC did not announce a change in its mandate for face masks, although media reports say its agency and the White House are in talks about whether to officially recommend that even vaccinated people wear face-covering again to limit the spread of the variant.
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A growing chorus of expert voices advocate for unvaccinated people in the US not to risk dying from COVID-19 when vaccines are free and available, and urge them not to heed misinformation on social media.
The chief medical office of Ohio, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, had issued a serious warning to unvaccinated residents of the state this week: “It really is only a matter of time now. It is if, not when an unvaccinated person develops COVID-19. "
The seven-day average of new US cases was 45,343 Thursday, according to a tracker for the New York Times, up 180% from two weeks ago. Hospital stays are up 53% and deaths are up 30%. And while the numbers are low compared to the peak of the pandemic last year, parts of the country are experiencing full blown crises as hospitals fill up. The list includes Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida, all states with vaccination rates lower than the national average.
The CDC's vaccine tracker remains static from day to day, showing 162 million Americans, or 48.8% of the total population, are fully vaccinated. That means they received two vaccinations of the vaccines developed by Pfizer
and German partner BioNTech
or a shot from Johnson & Johnsons
One-dose regimen. The AstraZeneca
Vaccine, which is widely used in the UK and elsewhere, has not received an emergency approval in the US.
Of adults 18 and older, 59.7% are fully vaccinated and 68.6% have received at least one vaccination, frustrating behind President Joe Biden's goal that at least 70% of the adult population receive at least one vaccination July 4th vacation.
"The fourth surge is real, and the numbers are pretty terrifying right now," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on a New Orleans radio show, the Associated Press reported. Edwards, a Democrat, added, "There is no doubt that we are going in the wrong direction and we will be in a hurry."
Louisiana reported 2,843 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a day after reporting 5,388 – the third highest since the pandemic began. The number of hospital stays has risen sharply last month, from 242 on June 19 to 913 in the latest report. 15 new deaths were reported on Thursday. Only 36% of Louisiana residents are fully vaccinated.
States are increasingly seeing COVID in patients much younger than those affected in the early stages of the crisis, who were mostly seniors. Dr. Jason Wilson, an emergency doctor at Tampa General Hospital, saw the average patient age drop to their mid-40s, according to the AP.
“Younger, relatively healthy and not vaccinated. If this applies to you, please consider vaccination, ”tweeted Erik Frederick, Chief Administrative Officer of Mercy Hospital Springfield, Missouri, noting that half of COVID-19 patients are between the ages of 21 and 59 – and only 2% of this group are vaccinated.
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Outside the United States, the Tokyo Olympics began on Friday, and the issue of unvaccinated participants is making headlines there too. About 100 of the 613 U.S. athletes are unvaccinated, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee medical director said hours before the opening ceremony, the AP reported.
IOC estimates that around 85% of the residents of the Olympic Village are vaccinated; this is based on reports from each country's Olympic Committee but is not an independently verified figure.
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Indonesia posted another record 1,566 deaths in one day, the Guardian reported, while Malaysia had the highest number of new cases in a day at 15,573.
In Australia, New South Wales is calling the recent Sydney outbreak a "national emergency" after reporting the largest daily surge in new cases this year, Reuters reported. "There is no doubt that the numbers are not going where we were hoping for now," said Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian as she announced 136 new cases in New South Wales.
In the UK, supermarket warehouse workers and food manufacturers are said to be exempted from quarantine rules that require people to self-isolate if a National Health Service app alerts them that they have been exposed to someone with COVID, BBC News reported. The move comes after supermarket shelves began to empty as more and more workers were pinged to isolate themselves.
Italy will soon require people to have ID showing their health in order to access gyms, museums, cinemas, restaurants and other venues, the AP reported. The government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi approved a decree on Thursday ordering the use of so-called “green” passports from August 6th.
The global number of coronavirus-borne diseases rose to over 192.7 million on Friday, while the death toll rose to over 4.1 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The US leads the world with a total of 34.3 million cases and 610,192 deaths.
India ranks second with 31.3 million cases and third with 419,470 deaths, according to official numbers that are likely to be undercounted.
Brazil ranks second with 547,016 deaths but ranks third with 19.5 million cases.
Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 237,626, but has only recorded 2.7 million cases according to official figures.
In Europe, Russia continues to lead the UK with 149,796 deaths, while the UK has 129,266, making Russia the fifth highest death toll in the world and the highest in Europe.
China, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, had 104,491 confirmed cases and 4,848 deaths, according to official figures, which are widely reported as massively under-reported.