(CNN) — While COVID-19 cases in the United States have risen in nearly every state over the past week, a few have driven most of the rise nationally.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters Thursday that the country has “fundamentally changed the course of this pandemic” and the threat of serious illness and death is now for the unvaccinated.
He said counties with the highest case rates have significantly lower vaccination rates than other areas. And some states have seen many of the new cases.
“This week, just three states – Florida, Texas and Missouri, three of the states with the lowest vaccination rates – accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide,” Zients said at a news conference at the White House. . “For the second week in a row, one in five cases occurs in Florida alone. And within communities, these cases occur primarily among unvaccinated people.”
But Florida is one of the five states with the highest case rates that had a higher rate of people getting vaccinated compared to the national average, he said.
“Every dose is important,” he said. “Each additional fully vaccinated person is one step closer to leaving this pandemic behind.”
The United States has an average of 34,056 new cases of Covid-19 each day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a 55% increase from last week.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently said he will not implement another mask-wearing mandate. Told KPRC, a CNN affiliate, who believes that sufficient immunity has been acquired through vaccinations or exposure that it would be inappropriate to force people who are already immune to wear a mask.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43.1% of the Texas population is fully vaccinated. The CDC advises that people should get vaccinated regardless of whether they have had COVID-19, and many doctors believe that the immunity you get from vaccination is likely stronger than the immunity you get from a previous infection.
Young intubated with covid-19 should be ‘a gigantic wake-up call’, says Alabama doctor
With COVID-19 cases on the rise and vaccination rates on the decline, health experts say they are concerned about the next chapter of the pandemic, especially for younger Americans, who say they are feeling the impacts.
“We know that in our ICUs, we are seeing younger people intubated who are very sick or are down and very sick,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “That should be a huge wake-up call.”
With one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, Marrazzo said, Alabama is “at the beginning of a fire” when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. And like many other healthcare professionals in states with low vaccination rates, he said he desperately hopes that the stories and data showing the impact of the virus will motivate younger people to get vaccinated.
The CDC’s joint forecasts, released Wednesday, on Covid-19 estimate that deaths and hospitalizations are likely to increase over the next four weeks.
Meanwhile, vaccination rates, which health experts have emphasized as a key part of the plan to control the virus, are the lowest since January, averaging 516,441 doses administered each day last week, according to the CDC. .
Nationwide, 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 get a high enough vaccination rate to to slow or stop the spread of the virus, depending on CDC.
That’s especially heartbreaking, say two doctors, when patients decide they want the vaccine too late.
“What I really wish they could see is to look into the eyes of a young father or gentleman who knows they may have fallen short in front of the world because they didn’t get vaccinated, and the regret and remorse on their face … and fear, “said Dr. Michael Bolding of the Washington Arkansas Regional Medical Center, in a video he made to plead with Arkansans to get vaccinated.
An Alabama doctor said one of the last things her patients do before being intubated for COVID-19 is begging her to give them the vaccine, but she has to tell them it’s too late.
When those patients die and she talks to her family, they tell her they thought the virus was a hoax, said Dr. Brytney Cobia of Grandview Medical Center, in a post from Facebook. She said she tells them that the best way to honor your loved one is by getting vaccinated.
“I go back to my office, write his death note and say a little prayer that this loss will save more lives,” Cobia wrote, urging people to ask him questions about the vaccine. “It’s not too late, but one day it could be.”
Covid-19 has unvaccinated people ‘in its sights’, says expert
Although health officials are concerned about the spread of the most transmissible delta variant, experts such as Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said those who are vaccinated are still well protected.
The delta variant is “one of the most infectious respiratory viruses that we know of, and I have seen it in my 20-year career,” Walensky said Thursday.
“The good news is that current scientific evidence shows that our current vaccines are working as they did in clinical trials, including against the delta variant,” Walensky said at a Covid-19 Response Team briefing at the White House. .
The same is not true, Collins said, for unvaccinated Americans.
“For those who aren’t vaccinated, this is turning into a targeted pandemic,” Collins told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Wednesday.
“We are in trouble, as the CDC projections have established, in the coming weeks, especially in those parts of the country where vaccination rates are low and [la variante] delta is widespread, “Collins said.
Los Angeles County reported 2,551 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a 20-fold increase in a month, according to the Department of Public Health. Just a month ago, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 124 new cases.
Not only does the spread of COVID-19 have consequences for those it directly infects, it also increases the risk of new variants forming, said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. of the USA (FDA, for its acronym in English).
“The virus will continue to reproduce, it will continue to cause suffering and hospitalization, and worse still, it will continue to have the opportunity to produce variants that are much more resistant to vaccine-induced immunity,” Offit said.
Even people who have been infected with the virus should get vaccinated, Walensky said.
“If you’ve already had a covid infection, the CDC guidance strongly recommends that you get vaccinated,” Walensky said.
“It gives you a more durable and robust protection with the breadth and depth of coverage necessary to conquer the variants that are currently circulating in this country.”
Vaccines are the most powerful tool, but mask policies can help
The risk of further spread and lack of vaccination has led some leaders to advocate for the return of mask-wearing policies.
Former US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said in an opinion column published in The Washington Post that the CDC “urgently needs to revise its guidance on mask use to combat the rapid growth of covid-19 infections driven by the delta variant. “
Vaccines are the most powerful tool to fight the virus, he said, but rates remain too low and “with many communities, particularly those of color, at risk of another devastating wave of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, masks are the next best tool officials have in places where vaccination levels remain low despite COVID cases increasing rapidly. “
A study, published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, found that protective measures, such as the use of masks, hand washing and physical distance, help protect against the spread.
Among more than 500 essential workers who continued to work at Colorado State University, 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 again advised residents to wear masks indoors when with people living outside their immediate home.
CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Deidre McPhillips, Lauren Mascarenhas, Sarah Moon, Ben Tinker & Jacqueline Howard, and Kay Jones contributed to this report.