The delta Covid variant has spread so rapidly across the U.S. that most counties in the country now meet the CDC’s guidelines recommending people wear masks indoors — whether they are vaccinated or not.
“We continue to see cases, hospital, hospitalizations and deaths, increase across the country. And now, over 90% of counties in the United States are experiencing substantial or high transmission,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters at a briefing Thursday. “As we have been saying, by far, those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated.”
The CDC updated its mask guidance on July 27 to recommend masks indoors in area of the U.S. where community transmission was considered high or substantial. Most counties that were experiencing high transmission rates were in Southern states, but in two weeks the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant expanded to most counties across the country.
The CDC recorded 132,384 new cases of Covid Wednesday, reaching a seven-day average of about 113,000 cases per day, jumping almost 24% from the prior week, she said. Hospital admissions have similarly climbed by about 31% over the previous week to about 9,700 per day.
Unvaccinated Americans make up the overwhelming majority of hospitalizations and deaths across the country, she said.
Several coastal cities with high vaccination rates on both sides of the U.S. have mandated vaccination for indoor activities like restaurants, bars and gyms to prevent further spread of the delta variant. New York City will require at least one dose of a vaccine for indoor activities, and San Francisco will require full vaccination with a two-dose regimen or one dose of a single-dose regimen vaccine.
In the hardest hit states, vaccination rates are climbing as residents take precautions against the spread of the delta variant. The average number of daily shots tripled in Arkansas and quadrupled in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi over the past month, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said at the briefing.
“Ending this pandemic requires every American to do their part. So please if you’re unvaccinated, get your shot … it’s never been more important,” Zients said.