US making major vaccine push as infections, hospitalizations rise

Washington, Aug 12 (EFE).- Authorities at the federal, state and local levels in the United States, with assistance from the private sector, are making a major push to ensure as many Americans as possible are vaccinated against Covid-19.

That effort comes as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has spread across the country and caused a rise in confirmed cases and hospitalizations.

A total of 132,384 new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Wednesday in the US and the average number of new daily cases in the latest seven-day period is 113,000, up 24 percent from the prior seven-day average.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, provided those figures at a press briefing Thursday at the White House.

Covid-19 hospitalizations, meanwhile, are up 31 percent compared to last week, having risen to an average of 9,700 hospital admissions per day.

“We continue to see cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase across the country. And now, over 90 percent of counties in the United States are experiencing substantial or high transmission,” Walensky said.

Cases among minors also are on the rise.

The US federal government’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said at the same press conference that the higher number of cases among children and adolescents is due to the Delta variant’s higher level of transmissibility relative to other strains like the Alpha.

“The only thing we know for sure is that more infections mean more children will be in the hospital,” he said.

The Delta variant’s transmissibility is so high that it has even spread widely in parts of the US where high numbers of people are vaccinated, the Washington Post reported.

In an analysis published Thursday, that daily showed that two-thirds of Americans in counties with high rates of immunization are now living in coronavirus hotspots.

Nevertheless, the data also shows that people who are vaccinated, even if they live in an area with a high number of cases, are at far lower risk of suffering serious complications from Covid-19 than unvaccinated individuals, the Post said.

Public health officials hammered home that same theme during Thursday’s press briefing at the White House.

“We all know that vaccinations are the very best line of defense against Covid and how we end this pandemic. That is why we’ve been tireless in our efforts to get more and more Americans vaccinated,” the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said.

For the first time since June the US is averaging around 500,000 newly vaccinated people every day, he added, noting that over the past week 3.3 million Americans received their first shot.

The biggest strides in the immunization effort are occurring in southeastern states with high coronavirus caseloads such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, Zients said.

Those are all traditionally Republican states where skepticism about the vaccines is particularly high.

He recalled some measures taken to boost immunization rates, including vaccination requirements for all 4 million federal workers and more than 1.7 million active duty, reserve and National Guard personnel.

Zients also noted that state and local authorities are adopting vaccination requirements and that companies such as Amtrak, McDonald’s and NBC/Universal are requiring workers to be inoculated before returning to their workplaces.

Nearly 700 colleges and universities, meanwhile, have announced vaccination requirements affecting 5 million students who are now preparing to return to school, he said. EFE

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