The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said the delta variant has become the dominant version of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. and makes up more than half of all new infections in the country.
The variant, which was first found in India and is now in at least 104 countries, represented 51.7 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over the two weeks ending July 3, according to the agency.
Its prevalence in the nation has doubled about every two weeks – Dr. Anthony Fauci two weeks ago said the variant made up about 20 percent of all new cases in the country.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Americans to get vaccinated, citing concerns about the delta variant.
“It works. It’s free. And it’s never been easier, and it’s never been more important,” he said. “Do it now — for yourself and the people you care about, for your neighborhood, for your country. It sounds corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do.”
More than 182 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 157 million are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Counties with lower vaccination rates are starting to have “relatively big spikes” from the delta variant, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told CNN.
“We've seen this in Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming ... those are the places where we're going to see more hospitalizations and deaths as well, unfortunately. Any time you have large outbreaks, it does become a breeding ground for potentially more variants," Jha added.
Still, the U.S. has been averaging less than 15,000 new cases a day for nearly a month, according to the New York Times’ tracking map.
The World Health Organization in late June urged fully vaccinated people to continue wearing masks and taking other precautions, though the CDC has not issued similar guidance. A CDC spokesman at the time indicated to the Times that that wouldn’t change.
The rise of new variants “makes it even more urgent that we use all the tools at our disposal,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the W.H.O., said at a news briefing last month.
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