The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is now estimated to account for 83% of all sequenced cases in the United States, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said.
“This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% for the week of July 3. In some parts of the country, the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates,” Walensky said at a Senate hearing on July 20.
According to Walensky, nearly two-thirds of U.S. counties have vaccinated less than 40% of their residents.
Data gathered by The New York Times showed that Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama are among the states with the highest infection rates as well as the lowest vaccination rates.
White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci additionally said during the hearing that the Delta variant spreads “efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner, well beyond any of the other variants that we’ve experienced, up to now.”
Walensky also said that the surge in cases has led to the rise of deaths by nearly 48% over the past week to a daily average of 239.
“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,” Walensky said.
According to data from the CDC, the U.S. has reported 34,830 new cases and 212 new deaths on July 20, bringing the tallies to 33,983,867 cases and 606,991 deaths.