“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,” Dr. Walensky said during a U.S. Senate hearing. On July 3, the CDC noted that the delta variant accounted for about half of U.S. COVID cases.
That number has dramatically increased. The latest delta surge also has led to increases in hospitalizations and deaths, Dr. Walensky said.
She said that deaths have risen by about 48% over the past week, and the U.S. now averages 239 COVID-related fatalities each day.
Dr. Walensky insisted that the surge could have been prevented.
“Each death is tragic and even more heartbreaking when we know that the majority of these deaths could be prevented with a simple, safe, available vaccine,” she said. “About two-thirds of U.S. counties have vaccinated less than 40% their residents. That has allowed for the emergence and rapid spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.”
President Joe Biden previously set a vaccination goal of reaching 70% of eligible adults by July 4, but the U.S. fell short. Medical experts have warned that the Delta variant is highly contagious and easily transmitted compared to other strains.
“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, said during the Senate hearing.
Dr. Ebony J. Hilton, the medical director for GoodStock Consulting, LLC, and associate professor, anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia, repeatedly warned that the combination of vaccine hesitancy, the refusal to wear masks, and the delta variant would create the perfect storm for a worsening pandemic.
Expressly, Dr. Hilton has noted that COVID-19 deaths in predominately White communities have continued to rise at dramatic rates.
She said the snapshot provides a glimpse into just how bad the pandemic remains in African American neighborhoods.
“We see the disparity starting to close, but not because Black people are dying less, it’s because White people are dying more,” Dr. Hilton said.
“Between February and March, 58,000 White Americans died of COVID, and it’s largely because of the ‘I don’t want to wear a mask,’ crowd.”
Dr. Hilton concluded that all should strongly consider getting vaccinated, and everyone should continue wearing masks.
“People are dying today, and they are likely leaving behind orphans,” Dr. Hilton said. “We know that one in nine Black children were already likely to see foster care in their lifetime. Because of COVID, imagine how many now if we are not taking it seriously and not getting vaccinated? It is not worth the risk. We have an agent, an intervention that has been proven safe, and it works.
“Look at the studies. We have 77% of people saying that they are not fully back to being themselves after they have experienced COVID. They have brain fog and other problems. It is not worth the risk, especially when we think about how the Delta variant has shown to be more contagious and more transmissible for our younger generation. We are setting ourselves up for a crisis.”