Infection Numbers Continue to Decline, but COVID-19 Response Team Warns About Variants

While coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations continue to plummet across the United States, the White House COVID-19 Response Team said Tuesday the Delta variant strain of the virus that causes the disease still poses a threat, particularly among the younger population.

During the response team’s regular virtual news briefing, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters the latest daily average of new cases over the past week fell by 30% to 13,277 cases, and 90% since the start of the year. She said it was also the lowest daily average since March of last year.

She said hospitalizations are also down again this week and have fallen by about 83% since the year began. She credited these encouraging numbers to people getting vaccinated and cited a new CDC study released Tuesday showing the effectiveness of the shots.

The White House’s top adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said, however, variant strains of the virus continue to pose a threat — particularly what is known as the Delta variant, originally identified in India.

Fauci said the Delta variant has become the dominant strain in Britain, and most of those cases are in young people.

Fauci said the variant currently accounts for 6% of the new cases in the United States, and he stressed the need to get young people in the U.S. vaccinated to prevent what happened in Britain. He said studies have shown both current COVID-19 vaccines are most effective against the virus once both doses are received.

With less than a month to go, U.S. President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70% of the U.S. to have at least one dose of vaccine by July 4th may be in jeopardy. The Washington Post reported Monday that vaccination rates have fallen below one million a day, a significant decline from the peak of 3.4 million per day in April.

White House COVID Response Team Coordinator Andy Slavitt said the administration is doing all it can to encourage people to get vaccinated, particularly minority communities, including opening pop-up vaccination centers requiring no appointment, and coordinating efforts through community centers and faith-based organizations.

Slavitt was hosting his last news briefing, as he is leaving the White House effective Wednesday.

Source: Voice of America