President Joe Biden will address Americans again on Tuesday with a fresh plea for unvaccinated people to get their shots and protect themselves against the delta variant of the coronavirus, that the nation’s leading public health agency has determined is more than twice as contagious as earlier strains.
“The delta variant is highly contagious,” the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said during a Monday briefing. “To put this in perspective: If you get sick with the alpha variant, you could infect about two other unvaccinated people. If you get sick with the delta variant, we estimate that you can infect about five other unvaccinated people — more than twice as many as the original strain.”
The seven-day moving average stood at 72,000 newly diagnosed cases a day, 6,200 hospital admissions a day, and 300 deaths a day, as of July 31, according to CDC data. All metrics have increased at least 25% week-over-week, as the more infectious delta variant spreads throughout the U.S.
Biden will address another key plank of his administration’s strategy to end the virus, that of curtailing the spread of the virus overseas by donating vaccine doses to neighboring countries and farther afield, according to a White House statement.
The U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to more than 60 countries, working with the World Health Organization’s Covax program, which aims to get vaccines to lower-income countries, as well as other organizations.
“Our goals are to increase global COVID-19 vaccination coverage, prepare for surges and prioritize healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations based on public health data and acknowledged best practice, and help our neighbors and other countries in need,” said the statement.
Biden is scheduled to deliver the address at 3:45 p.m.
The CDC’s vaccine tracker is showing that about 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated, equal to 49.7% of the overall population. That means they have had two doses of the vaccines developed by Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE +0.07% and German partner BioNTech /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX -0.61% and Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +1.54% , or one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ -0.36% one-dose vaccine. The AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN -0.66% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -1.07% vaccine, widely used in the U.K. and other places, has not been authorized for use in the U.S.
Among adults 18 and over, 60.6% are fully vaccinated, and 70% have received at least one dose, fulfilling Biden’s July 4 target, albeit several weeks late.
But with cases rising in all 50 states and the bulk of them occurring in unvaccinated people, getting shots into arms has become more urgent than ever. Health experts have repeatedly warned that allowing new variants to spread could result in one emerging that is resistant to the current vaccines, sending scientists back to the drawing board. White House officials are calling on employers to require COVID-19 vaccines.
The delta variant has created crises in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, according to a New York Times tracker. It shows that the county including Jacksonville, Fla., is averaging more than 900 cases a day.
Meanwhile, a new variant of the virus that first emerged in Colombia is showing up in South Florida, according to the Washington Post . The B. 1.621 variant has not yet been assigned a Greek-letter designation but is under investigation to determine whether it causes more severe disease or is vaccine-resistant.
Media reports continue to highlight people who were wary of getting vaccinated and now regret their choice as they languish in intensive-care units. The Washington Post reported Tuesday on how one in five adults age 65 or older is not fully vaccinated, despite being in a particularly high-risk group.
The paper reported on a number of individuals who became extremely ill with the virus after leaving it too late to get their shots. One patient cited by the paper had to have a double lung transplant and another a liver transplant.