Coronavirus: ‘This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ CDC director says

Health officials said Friday that the rise in COVID-19 cases reported nationwide is showing one clear pattern: The case numbers are being driven by people who are not vaccinated.

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“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday at a White House COVID-19 Response news briefing. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”

Officials said that in the last week, an average of 26,000 COVID-19 cases were reported each day, up 70% from the average seen in the week prior.

“In the last week, 10% of counties have moved into high-transmission risk … and 7% of counties have moved into substantial risk,” Walensky said.

As of Thursday night, the last date for which data was available, 160.6 million Americans were fully vaccinated, amounting to 48.4% of the total population, according to the CDC. However, the pace of vaccinations has drastically slowed in recent weeks, prompting officials to target misinformation as a way of stymying vaccine hesitancy.

New infections are also being fueled by what the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called the “extraordinary surge” of the highly contagious delta variant of the virus, The Guardian reported. The variant accounts for more than half of the new infections being reported across the country, according to The New York Times.

On Thursday, the surge in newly reported cases prompted officials in California’s most populous county to reinstate an indoor mask mandate. Beginning late Saturday, people in Los Angeles County will be required to wear masks while indoors, regardless of their vaccination statuses.

>> Related: Coronavirus: L.A. County reinstates indoor mask mandate amid spike in COVID-19 cases

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 34 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the U.S., resulting in more than 608,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 189.2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in over 4 million deaths.

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