The CDC reports the delta variant of the coronavirus is surging in the U.S. and now accounts for about 83% of new COVID-19 cases. Director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky shared the data during a Senate hearing Tuesday.
“The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease, and vaccination is the most powerful tool we have,” Walensky said.
The week of July 3, the delta variant accounted for about 50% of sequenced COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
Walensky also told Senators nearly two-thirds of the counties in this country have vaccination rates of 40% or below, which allows "for the emergency and rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.
The delta variant was first identified in India in October, and since then has spread to more than 100 countries according to the World Health Organization.
“The reason it’s so formidable is the fact that it has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner, well beyond any of the other variants that we’ve experienced, up to now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor, added during Tuesday's hearing.
In addition to rising infection rates, there are also increasing rates of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 as the delta variant spreads in communities in the U.S.
Walensky told Senators COVID-19 fatalities have increased nearly 48% over the past week and now average 239 per day.
Last week, Walensky said the coronavirus outbreak "is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," and urged Americans who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. While breakthrough infections are happening, those who are being hospitalized and are dying from COVID-19 are overwhelmingly unvaccinated, she said.