White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters Thursday that the country has “fundamentally changed the course of this pandemic” and that the threat of serious illness and death now hangs over the unvaccinated.
“This week, only three states of Florida, Texas and Missouri, three states with lower vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide,” Zients said at a news conference. to the White House. “For the second week in a row, one in five cases occurs in Florida alone. And within communities, these cases mainly concern unvaccinated people. “
But Florida is one of the five states with the highest case rates that have a vaccination rate higher than the national average, he said.
The United States registers an average of 34,056 new cases of Covid-19 every day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a 55% increase from last week.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently said he would not implement another mask mandate. He told CNN affiliate KPRC that he thought sufficient immunity had been gained through vaccines or exposure and that it would be inappropriate to force people already immunized to wear a mask.
According to CDC data, 43.1% of the population of Texas is fully vaccinated. The CDC advises people to get vaccinated whether or not they have had Covid-19 and many doctors believe the immunity you get from vaccination is likely stronger than that you get from an infection. previous.
Young people intubated with Covid-19 should be ‘a huge red flag,’ says Alabama doctor
With the increase in Covid-19 cases and the drop in vaccination rates, health experts say they are concerned about the next chapter of the pandemic – especially for young Americans, who they say are feeling the impacts .
“We know that in our intensive care units we see younger people intubated who are very sick or who are on the floor and who are very sick,” said Dr Jeanne Marrazzo, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Paris. ‘Alabama to Birmingham. “It should be a huge wake-up call. “
With one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, Marrazzo said, Alabama is “at the start of a wildfire” when it comes to the spread of Covid-19. And like many other healthcare professionals in states with low immunization rates, she said she desperately hoped the stories and data showing the impact of the virus would inspire young people to get immunized.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ensemble forecast on Wednesday released the projected Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations that will likely increase over the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, vaccination rates, which health experts have highlighted as a key part of the virus control plan, are at their lowest since January, with an average of 516,441 doses reported administered each day over the past week, according to the CDC.
Nationally, 48.8% of people are fully vaccinated, but some states, such as Alabama with 33.9% and Arkansas with 35.5%, are particularly struggling to achieve a sufficiently high vaccination rate. high to slow or stop the spread of the virus, according to the CDC.
It’s especially heartbreaking, say two doctors, when patients decide they want the vaccine too late.
“What I really wish you could see is look into the eyes of a young father or a man who knows he can be short for this world because he hasn’t received his vaccine, and the regret and remorse on his face – – and fear, ”said Dr. Michael Bolding of the Washington Regional Medical Center in Arkansas in a video he made to beg residents of Arkansas to to get vaccinated.
Alabama doctor said one of the last things her patients do, before they are intubated from Covid-19, is beg her for the vaccine, but she has to tell them it’s too late .
When these patients die and she talks to their families, they tell her they thought the virus was a hoax, Dr Brytney Cobia of Grandview Medical Center said in a Facebook post. She said she told them the best way to honor their loved one is to get the vaccine.
“I go back to my office, write their obituaries and say a little prayer that this loss will save more lives,” Cobia wrote, urging people to ask her about the vaccine. “It’s not too late, but one day it might be.
Covid-19 has unvaccinated people ‘in its sights’, expert says
Although health officials are concerned about the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, experts such as the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr Francis Collins and CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says those who are vaccinated are still well protected.
The Delta variant is “one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and I’ve seen it in my 20-year career,” Walensky said Thursday.
“The good news is that current scientific evidence shows that our current vaccines work as they did in clinical trials, even against the Delta variant,” Walensky said in a COVID response team briefing -19 from the White House.
The same is not true, Collins said, of unvaccinated Americans.
“For those who are not vaccinated, this becomes a pandemic that has you in your sights,” Collins told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday.
“We’re going to be in trouble, as CDC projections have indicated, in the coming weeks, especially in areas of the country where vaccination rates are low and Delta is prevalent,” Collins said.
Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported 2,551 new cases of coronavirus, a 20-fold increase in one month, according to the public health department. Just a month ago, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported 124 new cases.
The spread of Covid-19 not only has consequences for those it directly infects, but it also increases the risk of new variants forming, said Dr Paul Offit, member of the Food and Drug Vaccine Advisory Board. United States Administration.
“The virus will continue to reproduce, will continue to cause suffering and hospitalizations, and worse still, will continue to have the ability to make variants that are much more resistant to the vaccine-induced immunity,” Offit said.
Even people infected with the virus should be vaccinated, Walensky said.
“If you’ve ever had a Covid infection, CDC guidelines strongly recommend that you get the vaccine,” Walensky said.
“It gives you more durable and robust protection with the breadth and depth of coverage needed to conquer the variants currently circulating in this country. “
Vaccines are the most powerful tool, but mask policies can help
The risk from increased spread and insufficient vaccination has prompted some leaders to advocate for a return to mask policies.
Former US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that the CDC “urgently needs to revise its masking guidelines to combat the rapid growth of covid infections. 19 driven by the delta variant ”.
Vaccinations are the most powerful tool to fight the virus, he said, but rates are still too low and “with many communities – especially communities of color – at risk of another wave. With devastating cases, hospitalizations and deaths, masks are the next best tool available to authorities in places where immunization levels remain low despite the rapid rise in covid cases. “
A study published Wednesday in the JAMA Network Open found that protective measures – like masks, hand washing and physical distancing – help protect against the spread.
Of the more than 500 essential workers who continued to work at Colorado State University in Fort Collins during the first six months of the pandemic, none tested positive for Covid-19 in the months studied.
In places like New Orleans, leaders have resumed advising residents to wear masks indoors when they are with people outside their immediate homes.
CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Deidre McPhillips, Lauren Mascarenhas, Sarah Moon, Ben Tinker & Jacqueline Howard and Kay Jones contributed to this report.