CDC Director Walensky: 'This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated'

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Amid an uptick in coronavirus cases across the country, members of the White House COVID-19 response team on Friday warned that communities with low vaccination rates will continue to see a preventable rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the disease.

“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a press briefing. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination rates because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

The CDC reported more than 33,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with the nation’s seven-day average (26,300) up nearly 70 percent from the previous week. The seven-day average of hospital admissions (2,790) is up more than 35 percent. And after weeks of declines, the seven-day average for daily deaths, now 211, is up more than 25 percent.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies during a Senate hearing in May. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Dr. Rochelle Walensky testifies at a Senate hearing in May. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)

Walensky said communities that are fully vaccinated are “generally faring well.”

“The good news is that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected against COVID hospitalization and death and are even protected against the known variants, including the Delta variant circulating in this country,” she said. “If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk.”

Walensky added: “Our biggest concern is that we are going to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and even deaths among the unvaccinated.”

More than 608,000 Americans have died from complications due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

According to the CDC, more than 56 percent of Americans age 12 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including nearly 80 percent of the population age 65 and older.

But there have been recent outbreaks reported in states and counties where vaccinations have lagged.

“The bottom line continues to be very, very simple,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said. “Unvaccinated Americans are not protected against serious illness, hospitalization and death.”

“Each COVID-19 death is tragic,” Zients added, “and those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable.”


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